Photos by Hillary Ehlen
It was an emotional ESPN feature story that caught the attention of sports fans across the country, but it especially touched the people of Fargo, North Dakota, and the surrounding area. The story was about 8-year-old Lukas Kusters, otherwise known as the “Dutch Destroyer.” Lukas was diagnosed with stomach cancer. As lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fans, the Kusters family decorated Lukas’ hospital room with Eagles gear. Lukas had become a big fan of former NDSU quarterback and now the starting signal caller for Philadelphia, Carson Wentz.
After hearing about the story, the Eagles sent Lukas some gear and a video message from Wentz. Later, Lukas got to thank his hero, in person, before passing away. He was buried in Wentz’s jersey.
Sitting at his home in Fargo, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Craig Whitney watched the story and thought it’d be cool to bring the Kusters family to Fargo to see what makes Wentz the guy he is. One thing led to another and with the help of the NDSU athletic department, Gateway Chevrolet and several businesses to take care of travel, hotel and food, the Kusters flew to Fargo for the weekend of November 10-12.
Once in Fargo, each member of the family was greeted at the airport Friday with a bag of Bison gear from SCHEELS.
On Saturday, the family visited the tailgating lots and attended the game, where they were introduced on the field and shown on the videoboards to a long standing ovation.
At tailgating, two special things happened to the family. They were able to meet Carson’s dad, Doug. And the tailgating group the Kusters were with presented them with a Bison harvest helmet with Wentz’s No. 11 on it. They also received countless hugs and greetings from NDSU fans, Whitney said.
“They couldn’t have been more appreciative.” – Craig Whitney
On their last day Sunday, the family visited the church Wentz attended while living in Fargo. They also took a picture in front of the Fargo Theatre sign before flying back home in Wilmington, Delaware.
“They couldn’t have been more appreciative,” Whitney said. “They were completely blown away from the beginning when we invited them. The idea that a community would do what we did, they couldn’t believe it. They were extremely touched.”
The Kusters are already talking about making a return trip to Fargo. And a date they are eyeing is when the University of Delaware comes to the Fargodome next September.