Casey O'Brien added a special touch to his game-day uniform when he made his collegiate debut this past Saturday at Rutgers.
The Gophers sophomore holder stained his white towel black with permanent marker, scribbling on five symbols as a subtle message to other cancer survivors like him, as shown in the above photo from the Star Tribune's Aaron Lavinsky.
"It started in spring ball. I wanted to do something for any kids or anyone who would come to practice and had been through cancer," O'Brien said Wednesday. "So I started putting the cancer ribbon on my towels, and I added four Xs for the game because I had beaten it four times."
O'Brien, named the Big Ten conference's Special Teams Player of the Week, also wears about 15 wristbands on his right arm, all symbolizing a different child he has met in the hospital also fighting cancer. His collection started with just five, but now he receives bracelets from all across the country. The mother of Tyler Trent, a Purdue student who died of bone cancer earlier this year, sent O'Brien a band last week which he wore against Rutgers.
"It's getting to be a lot right now. I might have to got to the left side," O'Brien said. "But as long as people keep sending me, I'll keep wearing them."