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Pineville boy draws inspiration from New Orleans Saints in battling cancer

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Gavin Culpepper takes pride that the New Orleans Saints -- his favorite team -- are champions. He, too, has a championship spirit. It's hard to tell by looking at the 11-year-old Pineville boy that he is battling chronic myelogenous leukemia. ...

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Old 11-19-2010, 10:55 PM   #1
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Gavin Culpepper takes pride that the New Orleans Saints -- his favorite team -- are champions. He, too, has a championship spirit.

It's hard to tell by looking at the 11-year-old Pineville boy that he is battling chronic myelogenous leukemia. CML, as it's known, is a form of leukemia characterized by the increased and unregulated growth of predominantly myeloid cells in the bone marrow and the accumulation of these cells in the blood.

He will need a bone marrow transplant, and it is expected to take a year for him to fully recover.

What keeps Gavin's spirits high is his love for football, and the Saints winning the Super Bowl in February for the first time has given Gavin even more motivation to win the fight against cancer.

"I told my mom that all the stuff the Saints have been through, with people calling them losers and them finally winning the Super Bowl, has made me more determined to get a victory over my sickness," Gavin said. "I just stay positive and let everyone know that I'm a fighter."

As part of a wish to be fulfilled through the Dreams Come True organization, Gavin will get a chance to go see the New Orleans Saints play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday in the Superdome.

"I've never been to a live Saints game before. I'm excited," Gavin said Wednesday. "I also want to tour the city of New Orleans to see some of the city's sights."

Gavin, a pupil at Lessie Moore Elementary School in Pineville, is an athlete. He plays defensive end, kicker and tight end for the Tioga Red Majors in the Red River Youth Football League. He played football last year with no signs of his illness.

"I'm going to miss playing football next year, but I know I need to get better," Gavin said. "My teammates have been supportive of me. At my school, a video was shown to students explaining my conditions and what I need to do to get better. Everyone has shown that they are with me through this tough time."

Becky Prejean, Dreams Come True executive director, said the organization has been in existence for 28 years and fulfills wishes of children, ages 3 to 18, who have life-threatening illnesses.

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