Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Sports

August 9, 2013

Colts: Colts long snapper creates unique friendship with teen cancer patient

The 15-year-old girl rests in her wheelchair underneath a white tent adjacent to the tennis courts at Anderson University.

Wrapped around her shaved head is a band with a large representation of a flower in bloom. It's recognizable to a legion of fans from Facebook and Twitter.

So is the oversized blue Indianapolis Colts No. 45 jersey draped over her shoulders. She nibbles on one of several homemade cookies she's brought to Thursday's training camp practice to share with some of her favorite players.

And the Colts special teams have never seemed more ... special.

Moments earlier Mia Benge — who has been battling a brain tumor for nearly a year and undergone two brain surgeries — had been surrounded by kicker Adam Vinatieri, punter Pat McAfee, rookie kicker Brandon McManus and long snapper Matt Overton.

Pictures and videos were made, and laughs were shared.

McAfee — who wears the words "Mighty Mia" inscribed on a purple plastic band around his wrist — and the two kickers have recently departed. First, the punter bumped wrists with Overton — wearing a matching band that refers to the girl's caped paper doll alter ego — in a gesture that looked as though it might summon some super hero character.

Before he walked away, McAfee suggested Mia should indulge in a "Back to School" shopping spree. On Overton's dime, of course. Don't be surprised if it soon comes to pass.

Overton has spent much of the past four weeks by Mia's side. He was there to visit her in the Intensive Care Unit at Riley Children's Hospital. He was there the day she moved from there to the rehabilitation center just before camp opened. And he was there less than 24 hours earlier — on his only day off this week — to help her move out of the hospital all together.

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