Boy battling cancer hopes to meet Gritty for his birthday

Philly is rallying around a 3-year-old boy battling cancer whose birthday wish is to meet his favorite mascot, Gritty. 

FOX 29's Shawnette Wilson has his story.

Video shows Jack Callahan like any other kid his age. He’s smiling, dancing and carefree, but behind this precious little boy’s exuberant spirit is something you don't see.

“In February, we learned he had cancer and walking was becoming painful over a period of about a week and a half and it got steadily worse,” said Jack’s father, Mike.

His father and Jack’s mom, Emily, says in February an MRI detected metastatic cancer in his pelvis that eventually spread to his lungs.

“He’s got a positive personality, has a good sense of humor and he’s just fun to be around even though he’s very sick. He doesn’t know he’s sick,” said Mike.

They left a hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia where they live to come to CHOP where they’ve been off and on since June and permanently since August.

"Before all this happened we would have thought he would be distraught all the time and asking to come home and he has shown more ability to roll with the punches and be flexible than I would ever anticipated," said Emily. His parents describe him as having grit. Something we know all about in Philly and oddly enough Jack has always loved mascots.

His favorite? "Gritty I love you," said Jack.  "I want to be Gritty for Halloween," he said in an audio recording.

"I think he loves the crazy look. The crazier the better for Jack," said Mike. Emily said, “He keeps telling me ma did you know Gritty has googly eyes? Look at his googly eyes? Aren't those cool?"

So with the help of his parents, he wrote a letter to Gritty hoping to get to know him.

The family admits Jack doesn't know about the Flyers but because of Gritty, they may have gained a fan in this fighter who embodies grit in his fight with cancer.

"Jack says I love him. I want to meet him. I want to see what he feels like," said Mike.

"We said Jack what do you think Gritty is going to say when he gets your letter and he said I think he'll say oh my gosh," said Emily.

They mailed the letter to Gritty yesterday. Jack’s birthday is Oct. 30. He plans to have a Gritty cake and a visit from the mascot.