Josh McIntosh is surrounded by friends, family and teachers as he learns he is heading to the Super Bowl this year courtesy of C Spire.
Josh McIntosh is surrounded by friends, family and teachers as he learns he is heading to the Super Bowl this year courtesy of C Spire.
A Madison County middle schooler battling brain cancer will be heading to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis this year thanks in part to C Spire and its second annual Christmas Wish program.

The Ridgeland-based technology company was moved by the story of 13-year-old Josh McIntosh and selected him as one of three wish recipients this year.

McIntosh started his journey in March when doctors found a tumor on his brain. Nine months later he has undergone surgery and radiation treatment and recently underwent his last round of chemotherapy.

“I’m excited about the Super Bowl trip just because of the fact that I have the strength to go there,” McIntosh said. “There are other types of cancer that can kill you, and I know that my cancer can kill me, but it hasn’t. I’m still alive.”  

He said he did not know what was going on the day the people from C Spire paid him a visit to deliver the good news.

“I was really stunned there were so many people at the hospital. At first I wondered if I should be scared and they put this present in my hands and when I opened it, it said I was going to the Super Bowl. I was just amazed,” he said.

McIntosh said he is thankful to be at the end of his scheduled chemotherapy treatments. While they were trying times, he showed he always finds something to be thankful for.

"Chemo is not fun at all and I am just really glad it’s over for now," he said. "I have gotten to meet some really fun nurses but I can see them again without the chemotherapy."

The teams have not yet been decided, but McIntosh is holding out hope that his Atlanta Falcons will have another shot at the title.

His mother, Peggy McIntosh, said that a friend nominated her son less than a day-and-a-half before the deadline. She was initially skeptical that such a late entry had a chance.

“When we heard the news it was just disbelief really,” she said. “It all happened so quickly.”

Peggy chronicles her son’s recovery on a public Facebook page called Josh’s Journey. On Christmas Eve she wrote how nine months ago her world was shattered and they weren’t sure how much longer they would have their son, but now nine months later he is wrapping up treatment.

“Right now all we can do is hang out until February when his next MRI is scheduled and they get to see if this has gone how they wanted it to,” she said Wednesday. “While he has been incredibly weak over the past few days his appetite is returning and he has had the best attitude throughout this entire ordeal.”

When asked what his secret to staying strong was during the gift presentation, Josh shrugged and replied, “There is no secret, I’m just living.”

C Spire CEO Hu Meena said the four winning entries all involved inspiring, but simple stories of family, faith, hope and love in the midst of daunting personal, health and financial challenges that “represent some of the best examples of the indomitable human spirit.”

“As a company that gets its inspiration from our customers, we were amazed by the incredible stories of everyday, hard-working people courageously and valiantly striving to help their families and the people they love,” Meena said. “We have the best customers in the world and we’re honored to play a small role in helping change lives for a few of them at this special time of year.”

The recipients were announced on December 21 by the company.

In addition to fulfilling McIntosh’s wish to go to the Super Bowl, C Spire helped a Hernando woman, Debbie Colligan, purchase a service dog for her son, Jareth, who suffers from a severe form of autism. The company also helped a Jackson teenager, Kjuan Greer, get presents for him and his family.

C Spire also made a $10,000 contribution to Extra Table, a Hattiesburg-based non-profit that partners with Sysco  to supply food pantries and soup kitchens in Mississippi.