TODAY   |  April 13, 2014

Young boy inspires marathon charity soccer match

A soccer match in Illinois is several hours in -- 73 and counting -- because of one very special baby boy who battled brain cancer. “Hopes are really high right now,” said his dad. TODAY’s Carson Daly reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> let's begin this half hour with a marathon soccer match that started on thursday and is still going strong this morning. it's all because of the a 2-year-old boy facing a tough battle with brain cancer . we're going to meet young jackson and his parents in just a moment. first the story and inspiration behind the game.

>> reporter: it's a soccer marathon that's been running since thursday afternoon. all inspired by 2-year-old jackson steinkuehler who today is cheering from the sidelines. last summer jackson was fighting for his life. diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer . doctors at st. louis children's hospital removed a golf-ball-sized tumor from his brain. the first of four surgeries during his jackson suffered complications, including meningitis.

>> i don't know if i could have even imagined the kind of fear we'd feel, that we felt, especially in the past ten months or so.

>> reporter: after doctors successfully removed the tumor, radiation and chemotherapy followed.

>> i never broke down in front of people so many times. i really can't describe to you how difficult it was.

>> reporter: but jackson is now doing better and his prognosis looks good. so to thank the hospital, jackson 's dad, rob, a college soccer coach, and some of his players rallied for a good cause. a 73-hour soccer match to raise money for pediatric cancer research .

>> this is our way of saying, you know what? we're going to take charge now. we're going to do everything in our power to raise money so parents don't have to go through what we did.

>> the whole idea behind doing this is just to pay it forward.

>> reporter: while dozens of players have been going back and forth for more than three days now and a few have dropped out due to injuries the game continues to give kids with cancer, children like jackson , a fighting chance . young jackson and his parents, rob and kelly steinkuehler, are all at the soccer match this morning. good morning, guys. how are you?

>> we're doing good. how are you?

>> good to have you here. kelly , let's start with you. we'll get to the soccer match details in just a second. tell us a little bit about how jackson 's doing. i understand he got some pretty good news in march.

>> we did. he had a scan in march. it was clean. as long as we keep having clean scans things are going to continue to improve for him. he's doing great. he's running around like little kids should.

>> great to hear. rob, when you think of college kids , i know you're a soccer coach, you don't think about college kids raising money for pediatric cancer. tell us a little bit about your guys who've been on that field since thursday, what that must mean to you and how they're holding up.

>> i really can't be any more proud of the guys that are my players. this is an unbelievable journey that we're all on. and everybody's in high spirits . everybody's real excited to get on camera this morning. hopes are really high right now.

>> kelly , you've got an entire community just rallying around you and your family. what has that support meant to you?

>> everything. we wouldn't have gotten through this without everyone's support. i mean, that's just the simple fact. we wouldn't have made it through all the difficult -- i mean, we just bad news after bad news. having everybody behind us is what kept us going. we say all the time we're still standing because of the people holding us up.

>> right. hey, rob i understand jackson 's been a big motivator for the players out there. do you have a future soccer player on your hands?

>> oh, absolutely. he loves soccer . every time he sees a soccer ball he points and kicks it around and says dada. he's going to be a soccer player for life. make his daddy proud.

>> tell us a little bit about that game going on since thursday. is there a score?

>> yeah. the score right now is 274-304, the good guys. which is my team.

>> 274. wow. i guess after a normal soccer game you might go out for some pizza. where's everybody going to go after this marathon?

>> i don't think we're going anywhere. we may hit the grass and stay there for a few hours. i don't know.

>> yeah. all right. awesome. well, it was great to see you guys. thank you so much for the inspiration. jackson , i have a son named jackson as well. he shares your same name. i hope he shares the same bravery that you've shown, buddy. good to see you guys this morning. thank you so much.

>> thank you.