Written By: Josh Francis | 10:09 pm, Jul. 18, 2015
Mike Dempsey, left, gets a high five after running for a ceremonial touchdown during a Fargo Invaders football game on Saturday at Fargo Shanley’s Sid Cichy Stadium. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
FARGO-Saturday’s Fargo Invaders game was special for a Park Rapids, Minn., man who ran in a ceremonial touchdown despite a battle with cancer that prevented him from playing for the amateur football league team.
Mike Dempsey, 55, tried out for the team last year and made the cut. But shortly after making the new Fargo football team, he began to feel tired and weak while performing daily tasks.
“I was looking forward to playing with them but it just didn’t happen,” Dempsey said. “I started getting real weak and tired.”
After a Lymes Disease diagnosis, Dempsey had to put his football hopes on hold. But the Lymes Disease diagnosis was wrong.
“I basically had cancer,” Dempsey said who found out in April.
After learning of the Melanoma diagnosis, The Fargo Invaders organization wanted Mike to still be a part of the team. Matt Petznick, the president of the Fargo Invaders, invited Dempsey to join a player’s’ group on Facebook and invited him to stand on the sidelines during games.
At halftime of one of the games, Petznick said he offered Dempsey a chance to run in a ceremonial touchdown for the team.
Petznick said despite the diagnosis, Dempsey was positive about his situation and that was one of the reasons the team wanted him on the sidelines: “To bring some of that energy you’re displaying on Facebook to the guys, they really get motivation off of that.”
Dempsey said he was grateful for the opportunity to take part in the ceremonial touchdown run.
“I was really, really surprised that they would have taken the time and the thought to think of me and to give me the privilege, give me the honor to do something like that with them,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey has only been to a handful of home games this season because his cancer diagnosis requires him to travel a lot, but Petznick said he’s still treated like he’s a part of the team. Dempsey said he’s not too surprised by the way the organization has treated him.
“Having known Matt and a few of the other players from the team and just they way they are and how much of a supporting, giving bunch of guys that they are, it doesn’t surprise me,” Dempsey said. “In the same sense, it does surprise me because I was there just a short time and just started to get to know some of these guys and they’ve kind of taken me on as part of the team anyhow.”