Cowboys’ Amari Cooper goes above and beyond for cancer patient who wanted to be the WR for Halloween
Julian Perez has given little thought to his Halloween costume this year. He knew.
He wanted to be Amari Cooper.
Leading up to Sunday, the 10-year-old Arlington resident said he planned to dress “head to ankle” as the Cowboys wide receiver. The ensemble included a white helmet, shoulder pads, thigh pads, white football shorts and a navy blue No. 19 Cooper jersey.
No clogs, though.
That is medically forbidden with his new, Cooper-signed prosthetic leg.
On Friday, Julian and his mother Vianca Perez wondered aloud if football saved Julian’s life. His love of the sport certainly gives him purpose after bone cancer resulted in chemotherapy and several surgeries, including the amputation of his left leg in August.
Julian received his first prosthetic leg on October 21.
With Cooper’s help, it looks better than he imagined.
Julian Perez’s prosthetic leg with a signed Amari Cooper T-shirt integrated into the design — part of a surprise reveal at Scottish Rite for Children in Dallas. (Scottish Rite for Children in Dallas)
Cooper signed two T-shirts with Cooper’s image on them, and he recorded a short video wishing Julian well. One of those signed T-shirts was integrated into the new leg, the design portion of a surprise reveal at Scottish Rite for Children in Dallas.
At first, Julian didn’t believe the signature was real. It is.
Then he thought Cooper was referring to another Julian. He wasn’t.
“Obviously it’s an unfortunate situation, but the man is a big fan of mine,” Cooper said after practice on Thursday. “I just want to make sure I can see him through what he’s going through, just because he asked.”
Cooper became aware of Julian after a resident of Scottish Rite orthotics and prosthetics named Bronte Hermesmeyer, a Cowboys public relations officer, shared Julian’s story. Cooper is Julian’s favorite player. In the summer of 2020, Julian played a game where one person throws a soccer ball and others compete in a crowd to catch it.
A boy landed on Julian’s left leg near his knee.
Julian continued to play, but developed a limp that kept getting worse. Medical examination revealed no bruise or sprain, but instead osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor about the size of a ping-pong ball.
Whether bone cancer spreads elsewhere in the body is based on several factors, including the nature of the cancer cells. Julian’s limp allowed him to be diagnosed and treated more quickly.
“I was sad that this happened to me, but things happen for a reason,” Julian said. “God chose me because I am strong enough to do this. That didn’t make me sad. Just fight through it.”
Today Julian is in remission.
In his current prosthetic stage, he can wear the leg for up to two hours a day. Julian said he’s looking forward to simple tasks like taking out the trash again. Above all, he is waiting for a sports prosthesis with which he can play football again.
“I want to play in the NFL,” Julian said. “I want to be on the team” [with] Amari Kuiper.”
He is already.
Julian Perez dressed as Amari Cooper with his new prosthetic leg. (Scottish Rite for Children in Dallas)
Cooper was happy to hear that he inspired Julian’s Halloween costume. He called it “hard to fathom” Julian’s cancer attack and leg amputation.
“Sometimes we’re just tested to test our faith, and that’s the only perspective I can give to that,” Cooper said. “Every test has a reason. You can find a way to get through anything, as long as you’re still breathing. …
“Anytime he wants to get in touch, I’m here. I’m here for sure.”
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