OLATHE, Kan. (WDAF) — About 14,000 packed the Sprint Center on Wednesday night for Luke Bryan’s first indoor Farm Tour concert, rescheduled because of rain in early October.
In the crowd sat a special fan who got a big surprise.
FOX4 first introduced John Ernst when his friends and family threw a Luke Bryan street party as a send off before the elementary school principal left to begin neuroendocrine cancer treatment at the University of Iowa Cancer Clinic.
It was supposed to be his final hurrah before embarking on his cancer journey.
With the concert canceled and Luke in town, John’s wife Heidi invited the country singer to pop by the street party but Luke sadly didn’t show up.
Instead, he returned the favor with an invitation to meet before his concert at the Sprint Center.
“And the really amazing thing is when we got the backstage passes and we turned them over to look at, to take the sticker off and peel it off, it was zebra stripes and everything for John’s cancer,” Heidi said.
The zebra-striped ribbon represents neuroendocrine cancer awareness, which made the experience even more special.
“It was very neat,” John said. “I mean, he’s a great guy, down to earth, not one of those those stuffy guys. He had fun with ya. He talked to ya. So we went in, got some autographs, took a picture with him and then went and enjoyed the concert.”
John, who still feels good after his first round of chemo treatments, said this isn’t a sprint but a marathon. He’s saddled up for the ride. In fact, it’s his motto.
“Saddle up, we’re gonna get this thing done,” he said. “We’re going to beat this cancer, and we’re going to win. So get on, let’s go.”
This battle inspired John’s cowboy Halloween costume, as well as his daughter’s costume.
“She’s usually been the girl that is the princess, the ballerina,” Heidi said. “But this year she went as a cancer surgeon. So,she actually has a little name tag that says Dr. Carlie Ernst, Iowa Cancer Clinic.”
“I’m just trying to live each day and be as positive and optimistic as I possibly can,” John said. “Yesterday was a pretty cool day. Yesterday was a great day.”
November is Neuroendocrine Cancer Awareness month. The Olathe School District is having a dodge ball tournament to raise awareness for the somewhat rare cancer. The public is welcome to attend.