She was first diagnosed at 15. Doctors found a tumor on Sophia’s spine diagnosed her with Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones.

The Hays teen was treated in Kansas City, close to her favorite football player, Mahomes. She even got to meet him in 2019, and she left behind a little piece of her strength: a yellow bracelet that says “Sophia Strong.”

“He told me that he’ll wear it the next game. He said, ‘watch for it and I’ll make sure I wear it the next game,'” Sophia told KAKE News in 2020. And it’s remained in his wrist at least for most games ever since.

After two surgeries and months of chemotherapy and radiation, she was in remission. But the tumor came back in August of 2020.

Sophia’s mom, Jenny, said her daughter was undergoing chemo treatments for a year and a surgeon successfully removed the tumor in 2021.

As life is getting back to normal, Jenny said Sophia still has her rough days. But every time she sees that bracelet on Mahomes’ wrist, she smiles. Now she’s ready to see it during the Super Bowl for the third time.

“She was determined to beat that cancer, and Mahomes is determined with win that Super Bowl,” Jenny said.

Photos of Sophia Linenberger courtesy of Jenny Linenberger

Sophia isn’t the only young person who has fought cancer and given Mahomes a bracelet. Whitney Wells met Mahomes at Chiefs training camp in the summer of 2019. He wore it for every game. Sadly, she lost her battle with brain cancer later that year.