Denver, Colo., Jul 28, 2023 / 14:00 pm
Seven-year-old Mary Stegmueller is a fighter. She has been battling cancer since she was 4 years old, but her cancer is spreading. It has left her weak and unstable. She finds joy in music, especially that of Luke Bryan. And this Saturday, she gets to live out her dream of hearing him live at Ball Arena in Denver, all thanks to the local Catholic community.
Stegmueller is a student at Frassati Catholic Academy, and her family are parishioners of St. Scholastica Parish in Erie, Colorado. In 2020, Stegmueller was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an extremely rare form of cancer with no known cure. After her diagnosis, she was given weeks to live, but thanks to a cutting-edge CAR-T cell trial at Stanford University and an outpouring of prayers and support, she is still here, 33 months after her initial diagnosis. The dire reality of DIPG diagnoses is that 10% make it to the mark Stegmueller is currently at. Zero percent make it to five years.
After hearing about Stegmueller’s case and her love for Luke Bryan (she considers herself Luke Bryan’s No. 1 fan), Bill Hanzlik, founder of the youth sports organization Gold Crown Foundation and a former Denver Nuggets player, started making calls to see if there was a way she could attend Bryan’s latest tour when it rolls through Denver on July 29. Hanzlik understood that it would be a challenge for someone as tiny and frail as Stegmueller to be in the general crowd, and he was able to find someone to generously donate a private suite.