The Heart-Wrenching Backstory Behind Rome Odunze's Recent Tweet

V. Carbonneau
June 7, 2024  (2:47)

Rome Odunze
Photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Wide receiver Rome Odunze made it clear this week that he'll always be a Washington Husky.

On Tuesday, the Bears' rookie responded to a heart-wrenching video of a young girl sobbing into her father's arms. The reason? She had just discovered her favorite college football player, Odunze, was no longer on her beloved team. "I might just have to suit up in the Purple & Gold one more time 🥺🥺 Don't worry Evelyn, you can still see me play, just in some new colors!" Odunze replied on the social media platform X.
The girl in the video is Evie Johnson.
Evie is six years old and lives in White Salmon, Washington, a small town of 2,500 people along the Columbia River, just across from Hood River in Portland, Oregon. According to her father, Kyle Johnson, the town's fan base is evenly split between Washington and Oregon supporters.
Bears fans can relate to the rivalry, given the presence of Packers fans in Chicago. However, it often takes a tragedy to unite people. Sadly, this was the case for Evie and her father.
Evie was diagnosed with leukemia on March 22, 2024, at Randall Children's Hospital in Portland.
"Obviously, our lives got flipped upside down that day," Kyle told The Seattle Times. "Worst thing you can hear as a parent."
After several tough months of extensive treatment, Kyle posted a pair of before-and-after photos of his daughter, the latter taken after she had undergone chemotherapy. In both, Evie is smiling brightly.
That's when Kevin Walker, who runs an Oregon football fan account @scoduckz, shared the post—along with the family's GoFundMe—with his nearly 11,000 followers.
Within three days, fans of both universities had donated more than $15,000. The GoFundMe has since surpassed its initial goal of $50,000.
"I probably pick on Washington more than I would admit, that's part of the rivalry, right?" Walker said. "Even whether they deserve it or not. But I guess this was my chance to maybe make amends for some of the stuff I say, or whatnot."
In the viral video reposted by Odunze, Evie sweetly asked her father if the Chicago Bears were located in Washington. To which Kyle replied, "No, they're in Illinois. But he'll always be a Husky, right?"
June 7   |   43 answers
The Heart-Wrenching Backstory Behind Rome Odunze's Recent Tweet

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