Football players at Norte Vista High School follow the motto, "One play makes a difference."
For a 5-year-old Riverside boy diagnosed in March with an inoperable form of brain cancer, that one play came in August. Ethan Collins, the son of an assistant coach, donned a custom-made helmet and No. 1 jersey to run one play with the Braves during a scrimmage.
"I think he felt really good about himself," said Ethan's mother, Sharon Cortez.
The team ran down the field to the endzone with Ethan, then huddled around him and chanted, "You're No. 1. You're No. 1." It was an experience that made Ethan smile and inspired the team, which opened the season with a loss before winning six straight.
Ethan is the grand-nephew of assistant coach Andy Martinez.
"Everybody on the team realized what he's going through and what battle he's fighting," said Martinez. "They make sure they fight in response to that."
Another surprise occurred during homecoming last month when Ethan was serving as grand marshal for the parade. During the half-time homecoming ceremony, player and homecoming king Joseph Jolley knelt down and placed his crown on Ethan's head.
"I'd rather he have that opportunity than me," said Jolley. "Seeing Ethan just shocked me. I never thought something like that could happen to someone that young."
Watch the video above to see more of Ethan's story.
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