- Christine Bolaños Contributing Writer
When Brock Fleming died late last year after months of battling a rare form of brain cancer, he left behind a legacy that has reached far beyond his local community.
Now the efforts of Brock and his family and friends will gain the attention of thousands of football fans with the help of Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones.
Jones announced earlier this month he will proudly wear special cleats dedicated to the late 7-year-old during Thursday night’s game against the Washington Redskins. NBC is broadcasting the game, with the kickoff set for 7:25 p.m.
Jones said he was inspired by the Round Rock boy, who has helped bring awareness to diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an inoperable tumor at the base of the brain. It is the only known form of pediatric cancer declared terminal upon diagnosis.
Brock’s spirit and charisma led family, friends and supporters to create Team Brock, which works to increase awareness of the disease and raise money for research to find a cure. Brock died on Dec. 10.
Amid his ordeal, his parents, James and Melissa Fleming, and sister, Jenna, accompanied him to a Cowboys home game on Sept. 25, 2016. Friends had given them tickets.
In a statement, Jones said he invited the Flemings to visit the Tom Landry Room at AT&T Stadium, where they met and chatted with athletes and staff members.
“James and Melissa explained what Brock had been going through at that point in the year and I immediately knew he was a trooper,” Jones said in the statement. “Since that game, my wife, Sara, and I have kept in touch with their family, getting updates, trying to help with events, etc.”
After meeting Jones, the Flemings sent him T-shirts and bracelets with the Team Brock Batman logo and provided pamphlets offering greater detail on the rare disease.
Jones said he was taken aback by statistics he read. He learned that only 1 percent of federal funding for cancer targets pediatric brain cancer. “That should be enough to make everyone want to get involved in raising awareness,” he said.
Earlier this year, Jones donated a football signed by several Cowboys players, and that raised about $800 for Brock’s cause. As an official chapter of The Cure Stars Now, Brock’s team hands over all proceeds to its parent organization. Melissa Fleming said 98 percent of funding is used for pediatric research and trials.
Jones proudly wears his Team Brock wristband every day. And on Thursday night, he will wear cleats dedicated to Team Brock as part of My Cause My Cleats. The NFL campaign allows athletes to wear customized cleats during Week 13 games in support of charitable causes.
“When the NFL sent out the info about the My Cause My Cleats for this year I knew I wanted to design cleats in honor of Brock and to help raise awareness for DIPG,” Jones wrote. “The design itself is a collaboration from James and Melissa sending pictures and slogans that I submitted to the designer.”
Jones said the result far exceeded his expectations.
“I hope the cleats if nothing else will raise questions for people,” he said. “If they see Team Brock or The Cure Starts Now and aren’t sure what it is, that they’ll get online and read about it and somehow get involved.”
“I just think it’s amazing that we’ve got the Cowboys and someone like Chris, with his visibility, who wants to help us with our charity,” Fleming said. “My biggest dream is the right person sees these shoes and Googles The Cure Starts Now and wants to give support.”