Counting Miracles: The Edwards family path to UVA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Just like any three-year-old, Luke Edwards is filled with energy and clings to his dad, Matt.

"He coach," Luke said sitting on Matt's lap.

"What do I coach?" Matt asked.

"In here," Luke said inside Virginia's George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility.

But to those who know Luke, his life has been anything but typical.

"I felt like Luke's life from the very beginning," Luke's mom MaryBeth Edwards said, "Before he even was here was really extra special."

On Christmas Eve in 2014, while Matt worked as a grad assistant at BYU under Bronco Mendenhall, who he played for four years, the Edwards family received their first bombshell when going in for an ultrasound while pregnant with Luke.

"MaryBeth had an ultrasound and we found out that Luke going to be born with bilateral club feet," Matt said.

Luke would go through a couple casts to straighten his legs and now wears braces at night until he is five. Right as Luke finished treatment, Matt was offered a job 2,000 miles away on the coaching staff at Southern Virginia University.

It was there when a routine checkup for Luke delivered even more heartbreak.

"We got a call at about at 8 at night, we were just about to put him down," Matt recalled when their doctor, a close friend, called, "She told us we needed to take him to the hospital and we said we'll take him in tomorrow morning and she just kind of took a breath and said no you need to take him in tonight."

"We're looking back, Luke's sleeping in his car seat and you're scared, you don't know what's going on," MaryBeth said of the drive to Roanoke that night to a nearby hospital, "So I'm holding back tears and I remember looking over at Matt saying is there anyway that this could be cancer."

Shortly after, while the family was in Utah for the funeral of Matt's grandfather Hall of Fame Coach LaVell Edwards, Luke was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

"Why him? He's a great little boy," Matt said, "He's happy and he's got a lot of energy."

The family began making four to five day trips to the UVA Children's Hospital, where down the road Matt's former coach Bronco Mendenhall had just taken over the football program.

"Just said I know that a lot is going on," Matt recalled writing to Bronco after he had taken the position at UVA, "But if you have a spot I'd love to join your staff and he wrote back that he didn't have a spot."

All the while Luke continued getting treatment at UVA and the football community they left behind in Utah surrounded them again.

"I hadn't talked to these people in two or three years and saying hey what room are you in," MaryBeth said of the UVA coaching staff and their families, "We're just going to bring you out a meal or hey can we grab you a hotel room for the night, hey come stay at our house."

Then finally a position opened up for Matt as an offensive analyst in 2017 and Luke got the chance to join another family of Thursday's Heroes. While coaches' families drop by to see the UVA tradition from time to time, every family made sure their kids were there that day for their friend Luke.

"To see the team and the other coaches it truly cemented that it was our family out here," Matt said.

Through every trial, a path of little miracles leading the family home.

"It felt a step above luck," MaryBeth said, "It felt more like a miracle that it all worked out the way that it did."

"We've sat down and counted the miracles and it's too many to count, but we're definitely really thankful and grateful," Matt said.

Luke is now in the maintenance phase of his treatment and is set to finish in June 2020.

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