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Published December 20, 2011, 07:23 PM

UND Football Players Spread 'Holiday Magic' in Memory of Teen Cancer Victim

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Ten years ago, Markus Bryant was diagnosed with cancer at the age of thirteen. After the diagnosis, Markus became a part of the 2001 Sioux football team, going to games, practices and even a national championship.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - Ten years ago, Markus Bryant was diagnosed with cancer at the age of thirteen. After the diagnosis, Markus became a part of the 2001 Sioux football team, going to games, practices and even a national championship.

Before he died in 2002, the team started a new program, "Holiday Magic From Markus."

"We don't get smiles like this everyday," mother of a child with cancer, Cassie Gerhardt said.

That smile belongs to 7-year-old Jak Parrish, who's last Saturday at Altru was a lot different than this one.

On Saturday, the UND football team played Santa, deliver Christmas gifts to Jack and other local children diagnosed with serious illnesses.

"The thrill of giving somebody a gift and watching the look on their face is priceless," junior running back Mitch Sutton said.

"The joy you get out of seeing joy in other people who really at a time are not thinking about Christmas, it's a good feeling," senior safety Justin Belotti said.

"I think so often we see the guys on the field, we only see them as athletes and the way that they perform, and I think this shows the humanitarians that many of them are," Gerhardt said.

Of course some presents made more of an impression than others.

"When we showed the Torres family their kitchen table and chairs, since they've been here since August, haven't had one, haven't had dinner as a family, they kind of starting tearing up and they hugged each other and that was pretty special for me," Belotti said.

Markus' mother was the hospital and said that the football players are wonderful and that she can't believe after all this time, they're still involved.

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