8/27/02 - Heartland Football Star Beats Health Odds to Play

High school football season starts in just a few days. You see the players names and stats in the programs, but you don't see or hear about the work they did to get there. For one Heartland high school football player, being out on the field is an accomplishment health problems almost took away.
Adam Cunningham always wanted to be on the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcat football team. A dream that was almost taken away from Adam, not once, but twice.
"I was too young to really realize how bad it could have been or what the outcome could be," Adam says. Adam wears number 66 with pride. A junior, he's a starter for the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats, an accomplishment that Adam has worked hard to achieve. When he was just 12, doctors diagnosed home with Hodgkin's disease. "I was feeling fine," Adam says. "I didn't have any symptoms or anything. I had a little lump on my neck, that's how they found it."
Adam went through six months of chemotherapy, then had to build up his strength again. Fours year later, Adam is able to hang with two-a-day practices, running, and conditioning. "I worked hard in the off season, lifted weights all summer, just worked hard to earn a starting spot," Adam says.
It also earned Adam a leadership role, as a captain on the team. Things were looking up, but a month ago another scare, doctors told him he had a weak heart. For a while the team thought Adam was going to miss the season, deflating their morale, but a second opinion showed everything was fine.
Now Adam can give and take hits with the best of them. Coach Brett Detering says, "He's a tremendous kid, has a great work ethic and a tremendous heart. You couldn't ask for a better kid."
The team has watched Adam fight hard and win against Hodgkin's, and his positive attitude has been contagious. "Ten years down the road, when people don't even know who Adam Cunningham is, the things he had to overcome and endure will be inspirational to kids he doesn't even know," Coach Detering says.

Adam goes to yearly check-ups to make sure everything's okay. Now, Adam and his teammates are focusing on one thing, beating Flora when they come to Anna Friday night. You can see the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats, along with other teams across the Heartland, in action, Friday night at Ten, on Heartland Football Friday.