CONVERSE, Texas – Bryce Wisdom’s 17th birthday will be a celebration he will not soon forget. Hundreds of people – faculty and coaches, family and friends – surprised Bryce by parading by the Wisdom family home in Converse, Texas to celebrate his big day Tuesday.
“I was like, ‘What is going on?’ because I didn’t know what was happening,” Bryce said. “I just saw the firetruck coming down. I saw a lot of cars. Everybody was honking so I was like I don’t know what’s going on. They just told me sit here and wave.”
The Judson junior had inspired his community and gained national attention for his public battle with an aggressive form of kidney cancer, Wilms tumor, since March 2019. Bryce’s most recent hospital stint was just last week, a surgery on the 22nd to remove a cancerous tumor where his kidney once was. His father, Richard, said Bryce’s birthday provided an opportunity for the family to relax and enjoy the moment.
“It just puts everything to the side and just celebrate him, celebrate his day,” he said. “We’re not worried about appointments or calls, or, you know, anything else – it's just all about him today and the community and family and friends.”
Cars – many of them covered with streamers, signs and balloons – lined up in the Judson High school parking lot and caravanned in a celebratory procession that took over an hour to complete.
“It’s not something that I’d even imagined but it’s awesome and it’s so needed for our family and it’s what keeps us going and keeps up fighting,” said Diana Wisdom, Bryce’s mother. “But today is a great day. It’s a great day to be Bryce Strong.”
Notable figures from greater San Antonio participated to show their support: University of Texas safety and Steele graduate, Caden Sterns, as well current Seattle Seahawks safety, Tre Flowers, made appearances. Flowers, a 2013 Judson grad, said that Bryce has taught him what’s important in life and not to sweat the small things.
“He doesn’t know but he teaches me a lot,” Flowers said. “Being a professional athlete, caring about what other people say, reading what other people say, and then I see him and the weight of the world is on his shoulders and he’s smiling. He teaches me to get over it. He’s teaching me to do a lot and he’s really grown me up – he's an angel for sure.”
One of the biggest surprises of the evening for Bryce, aside from the parade itself, was UTSA president, Taylor Eighmy, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, Lisa Campos, and Head Football Coach, Jeff Traylor, presenting him with not only a customized football jersey, but an early acceptance letter into UTSA.
“That’s real special,” Bryce said. “I didn’t expect it to come this early. I thought it was going to come like closer to the end of my senior year but to come like towards the end of my junior year, that’s just real special.”
Ultimately, the most important takeaway from the event was not anything tangible, but a show of support for a high schooler who has faced his battle with cancer with poise and a smile on his face.
“I want him to know that he is loved,” said Diana. “Not just by us, but by his community, by his teachers, coaches. You know, it’s just – it’s amazing.”