OCONEE COUNTY, Ga. — A north Georgia high school football player who's been battling cancer was given a surprise he'll never forget ahead of the SEC Championship Game.
Landon Hagwood plays for the Oconee County High School Warriors in Watkinsville - just 10 miles from the home of the Georgia Bulldogs, Sanford Stadium.
Landon's been battling Ewing sarcoma for two years - a type of cancer that, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is a cancer of the bones or soft tissue that typically occurs in children and young adults.
Because it targets bones, it can be especially painful in the areas where it develops. But Landon has persevered in his fight, and the local newspaper, The Oconee Enterprise, has featured him as a "hero of the gridiron."
His football coach, Travis Noland, called him "one of the toughest young men I've ever seen."
"As a 17-year-old he's went through things most 17-year-olds have never been though, never have to go through, but the way he's handled it with such determination and fight within himself to never give up - and not once through this diagnosis has he ever been worried or scared or wanted to quit or give up," his dad Jason Hagwood said. "He keeps fighting and when he was diagnosed with a relapse, he was like 'Well I beat it the first time, I'll beat it once again.'"
And, like any high school football player within spitting distance of Athens, Landon is a huge Bulldogs fan. Now he'll see them on one of the biggest stages in college football.
Hagwood was honored for his character by Academy Sports + Outdoors and the organization Positive Athlete ahead of the SEC Championship, giving him free tickets to the game as the Dawgs take on Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and a $1,000 scholarship.
Positive Athlete says it looks to "recognize high-character high school student-athletes all across the state of Georgia" and highlighted Landon as "one of the better stories" the program has seen in the past few years.
The group posted video of Landon's surprise at Oconee County High School, with more on his story you can watch below: