A teenage New England Patriots fan from Massachusetts, who is trying to make the time he has left matter, has arrived in Atlanta to cross seeing the Super Bowl off his bucket list.
Jake Silver, an 18-year-old from Ashland, is battling a rare form of cancer. He put together a bucket list, and the community has rallied around him to make sure he accomplishes every wish.
Friday, he and his mother, Melissa Duca, arrived at Hotel Kimpton, where they received a very special welcome.
"We walked in and everyone started cheering for me," Silver said. "They were all wearing Pats gear and they're all from Atlanta, so that's kind of funny to see, considering what we did to them."
Hotel employees greeted Silver and Duca. Then he got to see his hotel room, decked out in Patriots pride.
"Five years ago, I kept asking my mom, 'Can I go to the Super Bowl? Can I go to the Super Bowl?'" Silver said.
Now, he's there, with tickets to the big game in hand.
Three years ago, Silver was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. After 35 rounds of chemotherapy and 15 surgeries, he was getting ready for another one last month when he received devastating news — his battle with the rare illness is almost over.
Still, Silver is determined to cross as many things off his bucket list as possible. The Super Bowl may be the biggest, and when the Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship, he learned his trip would be extra special.
"I get to see the Pats in the Super Bowl! I get to see the Pats in the Super Bowl!" he exclaimed in a video posted by his mother in the "Team Jake" Facebook group. The family watched with excitement as New England won in overtime.
Silver and Duca spent about 24 hours on a train from Boston to Atlanta.
"It feels normal," Duca said Friday.
She says the trip has made her stress disappear.
"I don't know, like, I'm happy, and I haven't been happy in a long time," she said. "I just had a grin on my face since we stepped on the train until now."
When the mother and son stopped in New York, firefighters helped make sure they were OK.
"The woman across from us, who was waiting for their train, asked me if I was famous," Silver said. "I was like, 'On the verge.'"
The trip is possible thanks to friends, family, donations, the NFL and the Patriots.
"Just the amount of people that have stepped up, it's incredible," Duca said.
It's a dream come true for an incredible teen who just wants to see his Pats play. And he's hoping he can check another box on his bucket list — meeting Tom Brady.
"I'm always nervous when the Pats play the Super Bowl, but at the same time, in the back of my head, I know our quarterback is Tom Brady," Silver said.
Asked for a prediction, Silver said the Patriots will win.
"You just never know. But if I were to guess, I'd probably say 37-31 Pats," he said.
After the Super Bowl, Silver hopes to visit Yellowstone National Park.