On Thursday, University of Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley visited Jeremiah, a boy with Down syndrome, at the Children’s Center in Bethany.
ESPN posted video of the visit and since then, the post has received almost 400,000 views. One of those was from the boy’s stunned dad.
"I had no clue. A friend sent it to me via Facebook messenger,” said Jon Friend, Jeremiah’s dad.
The message he received showed the ESPN post and video of his son tossing a ball with OU’s head ball coach.
“I've been a die-hard sooner fan for a long time and to see that connection enter my actual life and not just the TV, it was really cool,” he said.
Coach Riley visited several kids including Jeremiah at the Children’s Center and while the video surprised Friend, his son’s reaction didn’t.
“That's the great thing about Jeremiah is that it doesn't matter if it's Lincoln Riley or the neighbor, you know, everybody gets the same amount of attention and same amount of absolute love coming from that kid,” Friend said. “He's something else.”
Jeremiah has Down syndrome and has suffered multiple health issues since birth.
“He's had a really hard road: open-heart surgery, throat surgery, colon surgery and through it all, I mean, the kid never stops smiling,” he said.
He just finished three months of inpatient therapies at the Children’s Center and can now eat on his own. However, the best gift for his dad is having his smiling son home for Christmas.
"He's the happiest child on the planet,” he said.
Jeremiah was released on Friday but will continue his outpatient therapies at the Children’s Center.