Nine-year-old Quinn Rothschild loves football, and he adores quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
Quinn’s bedroom is covered with football team pennants and posters and his closet is filled with 10 Saints jerseys, even one jersey that the NFL star Brees wore during an actual game. Quinn knows Brees’ stats, where the quarterback played in college (Purdue), and even Drew’s wife’s name.
“It’s Brittany,” he shouted out during a recent interview.
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, Quinn and his parents, Teal and Louis, will travel from Barrington to New Orleans where they will visit a Saints practice and then watch New Orleans play against the San Francisco 49ers in a key NFC match-up on Nov. 25.
But Quinn has paid a steep price for this trip.
Earlier this year, the young Barrington boy underwent surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed from his brain — he’s cancer-free now and doing great. Doctors have told the Rothschilds that Quinn had the tumor for years, probably since he was about four or five years old.
His situation led to a call from the folks at A Wish Come True, Inc. The group grants wishes to children between the ages of 3 and 18 who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses, and when officials there contacted the Rothschilds they partly expected to hear Quinn request a trip to Disney World or a major theme park.
Young Quinn had different plans.
He told the organizers that he wanted to see the Saints play and wanted to meet Drew Brees. The officials asked if he had a back-up wish. He considered the question briefly and then told them, “No.” It was Saints or bust.
“I have eight (Saints) jerseys,” Quinn said, while rifling through his closet. “No. I have nine. Actually it’s 10. And I have a helmet, and two banners, two hats … and one Saints necklace.”
Early last spring, after Quinn’s parents noticed that their son was losing weight despite efforts to thicken him up, they brought him for tests.
Doctors found a tumor in his brain — it’s called juvenile pilocystic astrocytoma — and in March surgeons removed it. He missed a couple of months of school — he attended Nayatt Elementary then — but rebounded quickly from the procedure. Doctor’s checks following the operation and since have shown he’s cancer-free and healthy.
Mrs. Rothschild said Quinn spent the summer months like most other kids, playing and having fun, and showed improvements in coordination and balance, both of which were impacted during the operation. He even signed up for football.
“I had a major meltdown,” Quinn said, when asked how he was able to convince his parents to let him play. “I started to want to play when I was in kindergarten. I’ve been begging and begging and begging my parents.”
Quinn’s parents, while hesitant, felt reassured by their son’s neurosurgeon and oncologist, who both said it was fine for him to play.
Mrs. Rothschild said she had not wanted to let Quinn play football, fearing potential injuries, but soon relented.
“When you go through something like this, you change your mind, and you change the rules,” she said.
Quinn’s parents said their concerns were eased when they saw their son out on the field with his Barrington Pop Warner teammates.
“We thought it was going to be more intense,” Mrs. Rothschild said. “It was fine.” They said Chip Miller, the president of Barrington Pop Warner, also helped out during Quinn’s first year playing.
Quinn’s Mitey Mites team started the season with four straight losses, but bounced back with five shutout wins in a row. The Eagles eventually lost their final showdown, a Mitey Bowl battle against the East Bay Warriors, 6-0. But even the loss did little to bother Quinn, who wore the number 82.
“I love it on offense,” he said, adding that he plays on the offensive and defensive lines. At the last practice of the season, he had the chance to play running back and broke away for a touchdown, he said.
Mrs. Rothschild said she and her husband were considering letting Quinn play next season too, but wanted to wait for his January check-up with doctors. They said if that visit goes well, they might let Quinn play one more year.
Returning to New Orleans
There’s a reason why Quinn Rothschild loves the Saints: his father is from New Orleans and his parents were married there. In fact, on this trip the Rothschilds will be staying at the hotel where they were married years ago.
The Rothschilds will also take in a Thanksgiving Day parade and, if the schedule will allow, plan to watch the Grambling vs. Southern college football game.
Quinn is most excited about meeting the Saints players and Drew Brees in particular. He said he’s going to ask Drew to sign an NFL football that Mr. Rothschild bought for him and one of his 10 Saints jerseys.
Quinn said he’s also excited to meet Joe Horn, a former standout receiver for the Saints, Chiefs and Falcons. Mr. Horn, who set the career mark for the Saints in receiving touchdowns, is still involved in charitable works in the New Orleans area. He found out about Quinn’s upcoming trip and the two have been talking over the phone.
Quinn said he’s even asked the former NFL star some pointers on who to pick for his fantasy football league team.
“He said I should get Darren Sproles … he got me 51 points,” said Quinn.
It’s probably no surprise that Quinn also has Drew Brees on that same fantasy league team.
Softball game raises money for trip
A Halloween softball tournament helped raise some of the money needed to pay for Quinn Rothschild’s wish trip. On Oct. 27, officials from A Wish Come True, Inc., held the event and even gave Quinn a softball signed by everyone who participated. The nonprofit organization also coordinated a recent trip to a PC Friars basketball game for Quinn, where he had the chance to play on the court during halftime. The young Barrington resident said he and his friend each scored once during their abbreviated victory.