SANTA CLARA — Jimmy Garoppolo took a short break from the 49ers warm-ups on Sunday night to say hello to his special guest and launch a new pregame ritual this season.
Garoppolo will host someone who has battled childhood cancer every game this year, and his first guest was David Lano, 24, of Sunnyvale.
“It’s amazing, and it’s so surreal for him to offer us cancer children for a day so we can forget what we’ve been through,” said Lano, dressed in a red replica Garoppolo sweater (and a blue surgical mask).
Garoppolo has been looking to launch this venture for several years, growing out of his involvement with cancer patients in his New England Patriots days (2014-17). He plans to host someone every game, with the help of the 49ers’ community relations department and local children’s hospitals.
COVID precautions prevented fans from attending 49ers’ home games last season, and Sunday night marked the return of the 49ers Faithful, including Lano’s.
Lano celebrates his seven-year anniversary of being cancer-free on Thursday. He underwent a bone marrow transplant to overcome acute myeloid leukemia.
Lano volunteered when his boss asked him to attend a 49ers game, so he was surprised to find him as Garoppolo’s guest, including a pre-game photo. Garoppolo’s brothers Mike and Billy helped with the introduction, or rather a reunion.
It turns out that Lano has already met Garoppolo a few times before, when Garoppolo came to Lano’s place of work: a local Starbuck’s.
Garoppolo’s order? “Cold brew, with an extra shot (espresso)”, Lano replied with a smile.
As part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, NFL quarterbacks have auctioned autographed helmets to raise money for childhood cancer research and care. Garoppolo’s is for sale on eBay for $150.
Garoppolo is entering his fourth full season with the 49ers and has a contract for next season, although his future with the 49ers was questioned when Trey Lance No. drafted 3 overalls.