The true champion in Frisco
FRISCO, Texas — A teen from northern North Dakota is back home with championship tales to tell after the trip of a lifetime.
LJ Wells witnessed the Bison make history in Texas thanks to his community.
He stands at just 5-foot-4-inches, 140 pounds. but his football coach says he hits much bigger than his size on the gridiron.
But now LJ is trying to tackle the biggest challenge yet, the one to save his life.
"This is a North Dakota tailgate if I've ever seen one," LJ Wells said as he walked through the parking lot outside of Toyota Stadium before the national championship game.
He was overwhelmed with the sea of green and gold in Frisco, as there were more people in this parking lot than his hometown of Velva which has less than 200 people.
"I wasn't expecting all of this, it's nuts how many people are here," commented LJ.
It's this 18-year-old Wells' first ever Bison game. And he's taking it all in with his football coaches and some teammates.
"Pretty cool experience with all my guys here, and everything, pretty excited to see the game.," explained LJ.
LJ's community provided the ticket to the game, raising $3,500 for the trip.
"LJ is a great young man who loves football. And going through the fight he has now, people saw the opportunity to reach out and bless that young man," said his football coach Erik Sveet.
LJ is battling a rare form of cancer called Adrenal Cancer.
It impacts just one in a million people.
Back in June, LJ went to the doctor thinking he had a case of appendicitis.
Doctors delivered a big hit.
They had found a tumor.
"It was devastating, scary, at that point you don't know what you are dealing with," said LJ's mom Jenny.
At the time doctors believed they had removed the cancer.
But in September another blow to the high school senior.
"He was playing football and having a hard time breathing, really wasn't feeling well, missed a lot of school," his mother recalled.
Another trip to the ER found the cancer had spread to his lungs.
"We had just started reliving our lives and getting back to normal," said Jenny.
During treatment you could say LJ has lived up to the mascot he represents, a Titan at TGU.
He played football in the fall and is currently on the basketball team.
"It's been difficult, but I'm grateful that he has the attitude that he does, he doesn't let it stop him, and I believe attitude is 90% of the battle," said Jenny Wells.
LJ's fighting attitude has swept through Bison Nation.
Complete strangers raised some extra green for the boys in Frisco to make sure their trip was golden.
"Bison Nation is family, and it means so much to that young man, he and his friends have fun, that's all that matters," said Barry Hoffer of Thief River Falls.
As the Herd stampeded to number 7, it was a day for LJ to just be a kid again.
"I wouldn't call it a distraction necessarily, but just get away from everything and just make memories," LJ said.
That included celebrating history with longtime friend, and Bison tackle, Luke Bacon on the field after the game.
"Means the world to him and a lot to us," said Bacon.
A trip of a lifetime, thanks to Bison Nation rallying around a true champion in the herd.
"Pretty special to know that no matter what, I got people behind me through this no matter what happens," said LJ.
When LJ got back from Frisco he was dealt another blow.
Doctors found more nodules on his lungs, and existing ones have grown.
But he continues to fight.
His plan is to officially become a Bison in the Fall when he starts classes towards a degree in sports management at NDSU.