CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - The family of a man rescued by Carolina Panthers player, Christian McCaffrey, received a special surprise in the mail this week from the team.
"When the Panthers said they were sending a gift basket, I thought it'd be some chocolates. This certainly went above and beyond. Panthers and Christian McCaffrey, Eli and dad can't wait to come see y'all play," Dan Smoker tweeted on Tuesday.
When the @Panthers said they were sending a gift basket, I thought it'd be some chocolates. This certainly went above and beyond! Panthers and @run__cmc, Eli and dad can't wait to come see y'all play! #KeepPounding #SmokerStrong pic.twitter.com/a6RO9dNjkp— Dan Smoker (@dsmokexu) May 2, 2018
The Smoker family received a letter from the Carolina Panthers along with tickets to see a home game in Charlotte, and signed jerseys.
McCaffrey and his brothers ran to the rescue this past March after seeing a 72-year-old man fall nearly 20 feet while hiking. Eli Smoker was hiking with his grandpa, Dan Smoker Sr., when Dan fell onto a rock.
His injuries were critical. he had a broken femur, broken plevis, broken neck, and nine fractured ribs, among other things; he was clinging onto life.
The McCaffreys saw the whole thing. Christian McCaffrey called 911 while another performed chest compressions while Smoker stopped breathing.
It was only when the brothers showed up at the hospital a day later that Dan Jr. realized one of his dad's rescuers was an NFL star.
McCaffrey himself tweeted back in March, “Dan is lucky to have such a strong and courageous grandson,” and went on to say he’s praying for the family. As for Eli, it’s safe to say he’s relieved.
“I can't thank them enough,” he said. “It could have been, ‘I went on a hike and my grandpa died,’ but instead it's, ‘I went on a hike and some professional football players helped my grandpa.’”
The letter recently sent to the Smoker family reads as follows:
"We are so happy to hear the good news about Dan. Sr. leaving the hospital in good health. We would like to invite you into the Carolina Panthers family by attending a home game this upcoming season on behalf of Christian McCaffrey and Academy Sports. Can't wait to see you in the black and blue."