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Super Bowl Surprise For High School Player With Leukemia

Eastmark's Kevin Winegar gets tickets for game next month at State Farm Stadium

Nicole Bidwill (left), Dennis Gardeck, Michael Dogbe and Manny Jones give Super Bowl tickets to Kevin Winegar (wearing mask) on Friday.
Nicole Bidwill (left), Dennis Gardeck, Michael Dogbe and Manny Jones give Super Bowl tickets to Kevin Winegar (wearing mask) on Friday.

Kevin "Joey" Winegar did something unheard of during football season at Eastmark High School.

Winegar, a linebacker, helped them win the state championship despite being diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in early December.

"Just his resiliency," defensive lineman Michael Dogbe said about what's most impressive about Winegar. "The fact that he had a battle outside of football and still competed at a high level while still being a high-school student is inspiring. He encouraged all of us to have strength in life."

The Cardinals appeared at Eastmark on Friday after learning about the unique story. Dogbe, Nicole Bidwill, linebacker Dennis Gardeck, defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter and defensive tackle Manny Jones represented the organization.

They stood midcourt in the school gym to announce their unique gift to Winegar: two Super Bowl tickets and a helmet. The students in attendance went nuts after the announcement.

"You are now part of the Arizona Cardinals family forever," Bidwill said. "We're praying for you, and we're with you."

Winegar had been suffering some knee pain during the season -- it's believed Winegar played six games with his affliction for 13-1 Eastmark -- that was originally thought to be football-related. But he also started having fevers, and eventually was taken to the doctor and diagnosed with leukemia.

Wearing a mask in protection from Covid, Winegar stood for pictures with members of the organization after accepting the gifts. Then members of the varsity football joined the group pictures.

Gardeck said it was fantastic to see the community and Cardinals organization rally behind someone needing support.

"Like we support you, we got you," Gardeck said. "And it's incredible he gets to go to the Super Bowl."

Images of Arizona Cardinals players, cheerleaders and Nicole Bidwill presenting Kevin Winegar with Super Bowl tickets in partnership with the Little Star Foundation