Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and a brave young cancer survivor team up for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta event

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Roddy White gave thoughtful, funny and candid answers to a group of inquisitive questioners Monday night.

The guys appeared at a dinner at the Buckhead Maggiano’s for donors who made significant contributions during the 14th annual WSB Care-a-Thon. The annual fundraiser was broadcast earlier this year on News 95.5 & AM 750 WSB and benefited the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“It takes a million dollars a day to run Children’s,” said Shelton Stevens, senior development officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “It takes a village to keep these kids healthy.”

Austin Freeman shared his powerful story. Photo: Jennifer Brett

By far the most moving part of the evening was hearing from Austin Freeman, a McDonough boy who was diagnosed with bone cancer in April 2013, right around the time of his 10th birthday.

“Worst birthday present ever,” Austin said.

“There were some days I couldn’t walk and couldn’t even crawl, it was so painful."

"I thought about giving up. I thought, ‘I’m done.’ Then I thought, ‘I’ll never see my family again.”

He went through 31 radiation treatments and 14 rounds of chemotherapy.

“That chemo’s bad. Very bad,” he said. Austin gave thanks to God, his family and the doctors and nurses at Children’s Healthcare.

“They all saved my life,” he said. “I am cancer free.”

Austin, who attended the event with his family, brought the crowd to its feet.

"Voice of the Falcons" Wes Durham did a great job moderating the event. Photo: Jennifer Brett

“A pretty strong guy for 11,” observed “Voice of the Falcons” sports broadcaster Wes Durham.

He then moderated a lively Q&A session, where most of the questioners were youngsters wearing pint-sized Falcons jerseys. The little guys did a great job coming up with questions!

Here are some of what they asked and the players’ answers.

Q: Who catches the most?

White: That would be me.

Q: How many catches have you had this season?

White: I’m not sure but I catch 100 in practice every day!

Q: Is Roddy White your favorite receiver?

Ryan: My favorite receiver is the open receiver.

Q: How old were you when you started playing football?

White: I was 8.

Ryan: I started playing in second grade.

Q: How is college football different from the NFL?

Ryan: When you’re in college, (your schedule) is just laid out for you. It’s fun when you’re in college. There are a lot of things that have become work. You get pulled in a lot of different directions. Sundays at 1 o’clock, though, it’s the same as it’s always been. For three hours it’s like you’re back in second grade.

White: I still get these butterflies. I’m a competitor. I love to compete. My mouth sometimes gets me in trouble, though.

Ryan: Good answer!

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About the Author

Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for accessAtlanta.com.
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