As a survivor of leukemia himself, Chuck Pagano has an understandable soft spot for anyone enduring a similar battle. Indianapolis Colts fan Rita Hay is in the thick of her own fight. She is suffering from lung and liver cancer, and doctors have given her just six months to live.
The 70-year-old has long dreamed of seeing the inside of Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Colts were able to make that dream come true.
But the team, and Pagano -- working in collaboration with longtime Indianapolis columnist Bob Kravitz from WTHR -- had many more surprises up their sleeve.
First, instead of taking a spot in a stadium seat, Hay was brought directly onto the field during an open workout. Then she looked up and saw coach Chuck Pagano walking her way.
According to Kravitz's account, Hay began shaking. Then she started shouting Pagano's name. The coach came up and kneeled down in front of her wheelchair and chatted about their struggle.
"I didn't know why when I got my set of circumstances, didn't know why He put me where He put me," Pagano told Hay, according to Kravitz. "But going through it and seeing where I am now, I understand it. I completely understand it.
"So that I could do this and help people going through tough times. ... You're an inspiration to all of us, Rita."
Hay assured Pagano she wouldn't give up. "I'm tough. I'll keep fighting."
A pretty touching story, one that sheds a little light on the emotional roller coaster Pagano had to endure in 2012.