DALLAS—A 9-year-old Texarkana boy whose father was killed in the line of duty got the surprise of a lifetime after the Dallas Cowboys invited him to attend training camp in California.
In 2013, Caden Sprague lost his dad Jason Sprague of Texarkana Police. Sprague was only 30-years-old and was killed when a driver struck him and drove off while he was investigating a disturbance.
Sprague’s killer is now behind bars, but the pain hasn’t left according to Caden’s mom, Stephanie West, who is now remarried.
“To tell your 4-year-old son that your dad has died is unimaginable, so you try to find ways to help him learn how to cope,” West said.
Caden, his mother, and stepdad now live in Benton County, Arkansas. For his 10th birthday, which is coming up in August, he wanted to tour Cowboys Stadium. The 9-year-old told WFAA that he fell in love with the Cowboys ever since he started watching football on Sundays. “I saw them, and I said that’s my favorite team in the NFL,” Caden said. “It was from that day on that I loved the Cowboys.”
West reached out to the Texas Municipal Police Association to make a tour happen. But Clint McNear, a representative for the association, had bigger plans. “I didn’t think seeing an empty building would be that great for a 10-year-old,” McNear said.
So, McNear reached out to the Cowboys and struck a deal to get Caden to visit training camp for four days in Oxnard, California. Southwest Airlines even decided to fly the family for free, and dozens of officers across Texas raised more than $3,000 to pay for meals, a hotel stay, and a rental car. “It all fell into place, and he’s headed out there to meet the Cowboys,” McNear said.
Caden was surprised with the news earlier this week, and his family filmed him crying tears of joy in their home. “We’re so grateful for the opportunity that Caden has to be able to choose joy, and that we can’t let one choice of another impact our entire lives,” West said.
On Thursday morning, Caden and his family flew out to California—but before leaving, McNear surprised him with a helmet signed by former Cowboys player Jason Witten, who just so happens to be Caden's favorite player. “It’s amazing,” Caden said. “How ‘bout them Cowboys!”
McNear said it’s the least he could do for a young man who lost his father so early in life. “You don’t ever forget, and I mean that’s a tough thing as a young man to lose your dad—to lose your hero,” McNear said. “He’s going to have a big four days ahead of him.”