CLOSE

Jack Snyder, a York resident diagnosed with terminal lung cancer was granted his wish to see his favorite team, the New York Jets, play in person. York Dispatch

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Although he resides in York, Jack Snyder has been a New York Jets fan for as long as he can remember.

His uncle, Paul Ruby, lived in the Bronx in New York, 10 blocks from Yankee Stadium, and Snyder would take trips to look at the stadium even when the Yankees weren’t playing. Through his uncle, Snyder’s passion for New York sports was forged and never wavered, despite the distance between his hometown and his teams.

For the last month, Snyder has watched his favorite NFL team from his bed at a Heartland Hospice Care facility. 

Snyder became a patient following a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer, months after the throat cancer he was diagnosed with in 2016 went into remission. Despite the difficult situation he finds himself in, Snyder maintains a positive outlook. 

“(When you) get up in the morning, you’re lucky,” Snyder said. “I am 74 years old, I think I have lived a pretty decent life.” 

A pleasant surprise: Snyder felt even more fortunate this week when the Heartland staff told him they were able to make his wish come true. With the help of the Jets and Baltimore Ravens, Snyder will get to see his beloved Jets in person for the first time in nearly 50 years when they travel to take on the Ravens in Baltimore on Thursday night. 

Through the Heartland Hospice Memorial Fund, the staff was able to work with the Ravens to secure seats for Synder and a group of the staff to head to the game. Accompanying Snyder will be his social worker, Monica Williams, and Heartland Hospice administrator Christy Trump.

To make sure that Snyder was able to properly represent the Jets among a sea of Ravens’ purple and black, the team sent him a box of gear that included a surprise. To battle the December cold, the Jets sent Snyder a winter hat, gloves, sweatshirt and jacket. 

Broadway Joe: In addition to the cold gear, the team added two more gifts. The first, a green Sam Darnold jersey, the team’s quarterback and Snyder’s favorite current player. 

The second surprise was one that had Snyder at a loss for words. Under all the gloves and jackets was a white and brown football with the Jets logo and a signature from a Pro Football Hall of Famer, a Jets legend and Synder’s favorite athlete — Joe Namath.

“Is that real?” Snyder asked after reading the name on the ball. “I will tell you, that is something. I could almost cry.” 

The last time Snyder saw the Jets in person was in December 1970 when the team played the Baltimore Colts. He fondly remembers watching Namath and the Jets get off the bus, although it was cold that day as well and the Jets lost. 

A collaborative effort: New York Jets Senior Director of Community Relations Jesse Linder said when the team heard about Snyder and his trip to the game, the organization had to get involved. The winter gear for a December game seemed like a natural fit, but being able to help a fan miles away was a rare chance for the team.

“It’s rewarding to know that our team and our organization can lift the spirits of somebody going through such a tough time,” Linder said. “It’s something that whenever we get a chance to take advantage of those opportunities, we love to.” 

The Heartland Hospice Care’s Heart’s Desire program has helped thousands of patients since its creation in 1997. It connected a patient with pro wrestling superstar John Cena at an event last December. 

A memorable moment: Throughout his battles with cancer over the past three years, Snyder’s love for his family and his sports teams has kept him positive. After some difficult times in the previous months, a trip to see the Jets and a football signed by his favorite player is an experience he will cherish forever. 

“It’s really unbelievable,” Synder said as he spun the ball around to take another prolonged gaze at Namath’s signature. “Some people sleep with a teddy bear, I will sleep with the football.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE