CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - Fans of Carolina Panther Luke Kuechly know he's not active on social media, but he apparently has a way of finding out things.
When a 7-year-old Ohio boy posted a photo on Twitter of his specially made Luke Kuechly Christmas tree, Kuechly heard about it. What Kuechly – an Ohio native – did in response is pure Christmas magic.
A few days ago, second-grader Ethan Hurst of Washington Court House, Ohio, got an unexpected package from the Carolina Panthers. Inside was a No. 59 Luke Kuechly jersey signed by Kuechly himself, and a note wishing him a happy holiday and asking that Ethan "Keep Pounding." (A Panther fan mantra.)
Family members recorded the moment Ethan opened the gift, and it's clear he's speechless, jumping up to hold the jersey like a flag in front of his Luke Kuechly Christmas tree.
Ethan's mother, Rachael Hurst, is confident this will be "my son's best Christmas ever."
"We would just like to thank the Carolina Panthers and Luke Kuechly for taking the time to make a little boy feel special," says Rachael Hurst.
Santa is also getting Ethan a Carolina Panthers football, helmet, uniform and gloves, to make the outfit complete, she says.
The boy is a second-grader at Cherry Hill Primary in the small Ohio town of Washington Court House, and he likes Kuechly "because he's from Ohio and he's a good tackler." (Kuechly's hometown of Cincinnati is about 80 miles southwest of Washington Court House.)
Ethan's Kuechly tree took four hours to put up and Kuechly's jersey number 59 is the dominant decoration, along with a painted Panthers wooden helmet at the crown.
Rachael Hurst says she was hoping Kuechly would see it when she tweeted out a photo of her son standing in front of the tree. However, she never expected to hear from the athlete.
Kuechly is well known for his acts of kindness toward fans, particularly children, even to the point of letting them try on his cleats after practice.