Sara Verner tried to keep it together as her 5-year-old son Jackson lived out his dream as UCLA Kid Captain for the Bruins’ matchup with Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl. But seeing the unbridled joy on her son’s face and the spring in his step as he bounded from one tailgate event to the next, roamed the sidelines during pre-game warm-ups, and took to the field for an introduction that earned him a standing ovation from the crowd of more than 50,000, Verner struggled to hold her emotions in check.
“It was really hard not to cry the whole time, to be honest,” she says.
Jackson Verner has spent much of his young life as a hospital inpatient. After Jackson suffered a series of strokes in 2017 that paralyzed the entire left side of his body, doctors told Sara Verner that her son would need at least six months of in-hospital rehabilitation and might never regain his full gait, if he could walk at all.
“I said no, he’ll walk out of here, I promise,” Verner recalls. “You don’t know this kid.”
Read Jackson’s story and see photos of Jackson as UCLA Football’s Kid Captain: https://ucla.in/2N7MxFA