PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― An 8-year-old boy suffering from a devastating disease got a Steelers-sized wish granted last night.
Joseph DeBacco got to meet his idol, Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during a very special taping of the PNC Hines Ward Show.
Joseph DeBacco and Ben Roethlisberger pose for a photo
Joseph, who was only given a 10- to 15-percent chance to live, was ecstatic when he found out he would be meeting Big Ben face-to-face.
"I want to have him sign my jersey and I feel awesome," he told KDKA.
Joseph suffers from a rare form of muscular-skeletal cancer that has inflicted tremendous amounts of pain on his body.
"It has ate holes in his bones," said Joseph's mother, Amy. "It's broke his leg. His three vertabrae are compressed fractures in his spine but he's come a long way."
Amy DeBacco entered the KDKA 75th anniversary poster contest never imagining it would lead to Joseph being able to meet Big Ben.
"It means the world to him," she said. "He's got Ben cards, pictures… there's pictures everywhere in the house of Ben."
But the excitement goes both ways.
Ben says kids like Joseph are his inspiration as well.
"You sit there and think about how sore am I today and complain about practice," said Roethlisberger. "He's a hero to me."
Being a fighter and beating the odds is something Joseph lives everyday and he has some advice for his idol as he heads to St. Louis to take on the Rams this Thursday.
"Be brave and keep fighting," said Joseph.
Joseph has come a long way in his recovery. At one point, the cancer was attacking his entire body; but since his chemotherapy began in June, he now has just one spot on his hip.