John Langilotti, a beloved football assistant coach at Bonita High School, was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He received waves of support from his school at a Friday night football game with their rival, Glendora High School, but it was actually a Glendora High School student’s compassion at halftime that moved his family to tears.
Despite being released from the hospital just hours before Friday’s game, Langilotti was determined to be there to cheer on his team.
"Our football team came and visited me at the hospital and they were taking it hard. I was encouraging them that I’m a fighter," he said.
What he didn’t expect was the opposing team's fans cheering him on, too. They wore purple, the color for pancreatic cancer awareness, and displayed posters, showing their support.
"Being in the press box and looking across the field and seeing them all in purple and seeing our last name --'We love you, Coach Langilotti' -- that was very, very heartfelt," he said.
During the game, Langilotti’s wife was presented with a box filled with handwritten cards from Bonita High School staff and students. And at halftime, Tiffany Gomez, a junior soccer player from Glendora High School, really won the hearts of all in the stands.
Chick-Fil-A had been offering free food for a year to anyone who could kick a 30-yard field goal.
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"I was super nervous. I thought I was going to be the only one to not make it," Gomez said.
But Gomez was the only one who succeeded -- and she immediately donated her prize to Langilotti.
Though she didn’t know Langilotti before that moment, she says they do have a connection.
"My grandma has cancer, too, and so I know how it affects the whole family, not just himself. So I thought he could use it more than I would," Gomez said.
Langilotti said that act of kindness from a student from the opposing team gave him hope for the future. It’s a future he plans to be a part of as he relies on family and faith to win his fight against cancer.
"For a young lady like her to come out and want to provide this generosity for a family in need just brought tears to my eyes and I was ever so grateful," he said.