Kansas teen’s cancer battle honored by Patrick Mahones during AFC Championship

The Big Game

HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) — Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahones wore a “Sophia Strong” bracelet during the AFC Championship — honoring a Kansas teen’s cancer battle. Now, her family is hoping the bracelet makse an appearance in Super Bowl LIV.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” said Sophia Linenberger.

Sophia, 16, was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in January of 2019. She spent the majority of her freshman year of high school in a Kansas City hospital.

“I had chemotherapy treatment every week until the week before Thanksgiving,” Sophia said.

It was around that time Sophia had the opportunity to meet her sports idol, Patrick Mahomes, at a charity event.

Patrick Mahomes and Sophia meet at a charity event in Kansas City.

“He went around the tables and took pictures with all of the different tables,” she explained.

That’s when Sophia’s mom, Jenny Linenberger, seized the moment. First, she asked Mahomes if he would take a picture with Sophia. Then, she handed him a Sophia Strong bracelet.

“I said, ‘Mr. Mahomes this bracelet is from my daughter,'” explained Jenny.

Jenny said Mahomes put the bracelet on his wrist and then walked over to Sophia.

“He said he would wear it to the next football game. He said to watch for it,” said Sophia.

To the family’s surprise, Mahomes did indeed wear Sophia’s bracelet during his next game.

“I was so happy, and I wasn’t expecting that,” Sophia exclaimed. “We paused the TV and took all kinds of different pictures of it, and we still do that every time we watch the football games.”

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 19: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy after defeating the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Titans 35-24. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 19: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy after defeating the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Titans 35-24. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Sophia said she was even more thrilled when she saw Mahomes wearing her wristband during the AFC Championship game.

“It was awesome! When he was holding up the trophy, I couldn’t see it, but then when I saw the pictures, I could see a little itty bitty piece sticking out of my little wristband on there,” she said.

The question is: Will Mahomes wear the bracelet during the Super Bowl?

Sophia and her mother said they are hopeful. However, no matter what, they said Mahomes has given them a gift unlike any other.

“I just want to tell him thank you, and he told me he was going to wear it and he continues to wear it and that just means so much to me especially through all the stuff I have been through,” Sophia said.

“Mahomes put a lot of joy in Sophia,” Jenny said. “Her being able to stop and pause the TV and see her wristband on his arm like brings so much joy to her. It’s so wonderful to see her smiling and, you know, rooting and cheering, just happy.”

Sophia has been in remission for about two months. She returned to Thomas More Prep-Marian on Tuesday to continue her sophomore year.

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