This week BYU football welcomed the Howe family from Sydney, Australia, to practice to honor their son, Ethan, as a Thursday's Hero.
Ethan was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and went through rounds of chemo therapy and surgery to remove tumors from his kidneys. Ethan is now cancer free and was cleared by doctors to visit the U.S. The Howes went to Disneyland and will also attend Friday night's game against Utah State. The game will be Ethan's first American football game. He has traveled one of the farthest distances of all Thursday's Heroes honored.
After practice, the team gave Ethan BYU gear and signed team flags. Players also threw the football, signed autographs and took pictures with the family.
Two BYU players had a special connection to the family. Quarterback Taysom Hill met the family and spent time with them on his mission, and Ethan's grandfather was offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho's mission president.
"My first area in the mission field was in their ward," Hill said. "The wife's father was my bishop and her brother was my ward mission leader, so I knew the family very well."
Following practice, Hill took the family on a tour of the football offices and talked to them about the game. He showed them the team meeting rooms and head coach Bronco Mendenhall's office. To show their gratitude, the family gave Mendenhall a package of traditional Australian Tim Tams (chocolate-covered cookies) and hot chocolate and taught him about the "Tim Tam Slam," which includes drinking hot chocolate through the cookie.