A friendship between Indianapolis Colts long-snapper Matt Overton and a young cancer patient has become that city’s inspirational story of the 2013 football season.
Overton, a 2003 graduate of Tracy High and the Colts special teams center, was already on his way to being a Colts fan favorite during his rookie season in 2012. Overton’s Twitter and Facebook posts highlight his connection with the Indianapolis community.
Over the past month another storyline emerged on social media and gained even wider attention.
The sports headlines last weekend in the Indianapolis Star, WISH-TV of Indianapolis and the Anderson, Ind., Herald Bulletin were about how Overton and 15-year-old Mia Benge have inspired each other.
Overton met Mia during a regular visit he and other Colts’ players make at Indiana University’s Riley Hospital for Children. Mia was dealing with a brain tumor that put her in and out of the hospital for the past year.
This summer Overton invited 10 girls from the hospital, and their parents, to share a VIP suite at the July 10 Justin Bieber show. Mia was too ill to be at the concert so her sister, Olivia, went in her place.
“It was the night of the concert that we got word Mia might not make it through the night,” Overton said. They left the concert early to get to the hospital as Mia underwent emergency surgery.
“To see the look in her sister’s eyes, it just hit me really close,” Overton said.
He made a commitment to visit Mia every chance he got. Overton, an avid Twitter user, documented her recovery in his daily posts as #MightyMia became a trending topic inIndianapolis.
“Every time I saw Mia she had a smile on her face and her family told me how much my visits meant to her,” he said.
Overton’s Twitter posts spotlighted Mia’s triumphs, including the day she was released from the intensive care unit, the day she left the hospital, and then her visit to Colts training camp on Aug. 8 to meet the players who visited her in the hospital.
Monday, Aug. 12, she was out of the hospital and starting her freshman year at Speedway High School just outside of Indianapolis.
“I heard an ICU nurse say that they don’t see many miracles happen, and Mia is one of those miracles,” Overton said Tuesday, Aug. 13. “I’m just thrilled to witness her story and her fight. The community has really embraced her.”
In telling the story theIndiananewspapers describe how Overton also succeeded against long odds to reach the NFL. He spent five seasons in football’s minor leagues, including three years in the United Football League, and was picked up twice, and released twice, by the Seattle Seahawks before he got his opportunity last year with the Colts.
Overton said that the experience makes him want to inspire others to never give up.
“The trials make me appreciate where I am. You can’t take anything for granted.”
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.