McHenry boy going through pediatric cancer chosen to be ‘Champion’ of Bears game

‘It was exactly what Mason and our family needed,’ his mother says

A McHenry boy was spotlighted as a “Champion” during a recent Bears game with the help of a Chicago-based nonprofit organization seeking to eliminate pediatric cancer.

The Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation provides customized experiences for children going through cancer, such as concerts, trips to the American Girl Place, the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum family memberships, according to its website.

Because of the pandemic, these individualized Bear Hug experiences were put on hold in March 2020, but they were able to kick off the events again with 12-year-old Mason Bertone of McHenry, the nonprofit said in a release.

“We are excited to be able to bring back in-person Bear Hugs to provide much needed hope to our Bear Necessities community,” the foundation’s president and founder, Kathleen A. Casey, said in a statement.

As a Champion of the Game, Mason Bertone, who has Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones, and his family were given game tickets, a parking pass, goodie bags and on-field and video board recognition during the Chicago Bears’ Oct. 17 game. In addition to the game, the Champion of the Game and his family go to Halas Hall the morning before the game to eat lunch, watch practice and then virtually chat with some Bears players, according to the release.

Bear Necessities also provided a $150 Visa gift card to cover food for the family at the game.

Loni Bertone, Mason’s mother, said in a statement that the family had “the most amazing weekend.”

There is nothing easy about watching your child go through cancer, she said, but with help from family, friends and foundations like Bear Necessities, the family is able to find “light, positivity and hope.”

“It was exactly what Mason and our family needed,” she said. “He is feeling amazing both physically and mentally. It was also great to have this quality family time.”