CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - It’s a day the Kile family will never forget: The chance to get on the field at their very first Carolina Panthers game.
Unfortunately, one crucial member of the family wasn't there on this special day, but it was Richard Kile’s dying promise to his son Chris, that made all of this possible.
Richard was a Staff Sergeant in the Marines, but he was fighting for more than just his country.
“He was diagnosed with his first brain tumor January of 2002,” said Jenean Kile, Richard’s wife. “We were stationed in the military in California. He had surgery, chemo radiation, recovered, did a tour in Afghanistan served there, then we moved to North Carolina.”
They lived in New Bern for five years, and that’s where Chris first became a diehard Panthers fan, but unfortunately, the family was hit with another blow.
“Shortly after arriving to North Carolina, my son was diagnosed with leukemia and then he [Richard] was diagnosed with his second tumor,” Jenean said.
“It was difficult trying to like, stay focused on school and everything with the home life falling apart kind of and trying to keep going,” said Chris, Richard’s son. “Listening to the Panthers say ‘keep pounding’ for it and ‘keep going,’ that’s what kept me going through it all.”
Chris went into remission, but his father was not out of the woods. The family then moved to Ohio to be closer to Jenean’s side of the family.
Richard lost his battle with brain cancer in 2014 after a fourth diagnosis, but not before making a promise to his son to get him to a Panthers game.
“As soon as he got sick the last time, as part of the promise he made, I was telling Chris if ever there’s a chance, I’m going to make it happen,” said Jenean. “Richard came to me last year with the schedule and said they are coming here. I said well, a promise is a promise and we’re going to make it happen.”
Jenean got tickets but wanted to make it even more special.
“It started with the Panthers Fan group on Facebook,” said Jenean. “I just asked a simple question: ‘We’re going to the game; how do I get an autograph?’”
From there FOX 46 Charlotte got involved, connecting the Kiles with the Panthers, who were generous enough to give them field passes before the game.
They got autographs, met Ron Rivera and some of the players, but the big moment came when they met owner David Tepper.
It’s a day they will never forget all thanks to a promise they were determined to keep for Richard.
“We know he’s here with us,” said Jenean. “He had a hand in this and he would love every minute of this.”