After losing her son Scot to an aggressive case an extremely rare childhood cancer in September of 2014, Trae Sieczko made her son’s bucket list her sole mission in life.
But in particular, one item stood out.
Scot was an enormous Carolina Panthers fan, with the focus of his devotion wrapped around superstar quarterback Cam Newton. Mom Trae Sieczko says he loved Newton from his time at Auburn University, and Scot’s second-to-last wish was to meet the QB and get his jersey autographed.
Scot, who died at 22, lived his last days to the fullest, constantly playing basketball or skateboarding even when his body fought against him at every turn. Sieczko told SFBay his persona was similar to that of his hero, Newton:
“Scot’s personality was parallel to Cam’s. He took notice of how he played with a smile on his face, let adversity roll off his shoulders, and turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to those who wanted to change him. Scot lived by that code.”
During his treatments, and between the times Scot was cancer-free and his relapse, he noticed the hardships of the other patients around him, including babies, young children, and their families.
Knowing he would not make it, Scot helped create the Team Scot Foundation, choosing the foundation colors — including Carolina teal — and selecting merchandise they would sell to raise money for other cancer patients.
Scot brought together his passion of helping others with his love of skateboarding to create the foundation’s slogan: “Shred Childhood Cancer.”
Before he passed, Scot made it clear to his family his tumor would be donated for research purposes to help other victims.
Trae Sieczko says that running Team Scot in her son’s honor was her way of handling the loss and her grief, even though it wasn’t easy:
“That first month I went into hibernation. It was as if my head was in a very bad cloud. I couldn’t see anything, feel anything, do anything pretty much for the first year after Scot passed. I think this is a survival mechanism. Keeping numb so that you can just barely function.”
“The second year has been harder. It hits like a ton of bricks that he is not coming back, no more dream state, no more shock, it’s concrete, real, and painful. Grieving a child is not something that ever ends, it just becomes more commonplace, a feeling that is part of who you are. Some days are good and some days I cry all day. Saying I miss him is an understatement. Scot will be forever 22, and one day, soon, his brother will be 22, and 23, and 24 and surpass his older brother.”
After writing an open letter to Newton, spawning a media frenzy between KTVU-TV anchor Frank Somerville and SFBay, along with the power of social media, the Mayor of Santa Clara was contacted, who then started the message train to San Francisco 49ers general manager Jed York and public relations director Bob Lange.
Once the Panthers’ public relations staff was contacted, Newton immediately agreed to help.
Sieczko fulfilled both her and Scot’s dream of meeting Newton during Super Bowl 50 media night in San Jose Monday, getting both Scot’s jersey and a new Super Bowl 50 jersey signed as well.
The next morning, the tears hadn’t stopped rolling, as Sieczko told SFBay:
“It’s still like a dream. It’s all so amazing.”