A man who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer has been gifted the experience of a lifetime after the poker community rallied around and paid for him to get a seat at the table for the biggest event in the world, taking place in Las Vegas.
Father-of-two Michael Graydon was diagnosed with a malignant slow-growing glioma of the brain stem after going for initial tests in December 2020, but - despite his diagnosis - the keen cards player decided to try to get himself to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, sponsored by GGPoker.
Now, not only is he going to the big show, he's going to be playing for large sums against thousands of the world's best, kitted out with brand new gear after companies, star players, and well-wishers made his dream a reality.
Graydon, who lives with his daughters and his wife Haley in Birmingham, Alabama, told LADbible: "In December of 2020 I went to the ENT for a normal sinus infection.
"While there I told my doctor about a weird spasm I had been having in my neck, so he did a scope and found that I had a paralyzed vocal cord.
"He ordered an MRI of my brain and that's when they found the tumour.
"After a follow-up MRI my neurologist referred me to the oncologist and my case was put in front of the tumour board with 25 top oncologists.
"They diagnosed me with a malignant slow-growing glioma of the brain stem."
He continued: "The World Series of Poker main event is every poker player's dream.
"It's the most prestigious poker tournament in the world.
"You can enter by paying $10,000 or for people like me who don't have that kind of money, you can sell pieces of yourself [the money you'll play with] and people who buy pieces get the equivalent percentage of your winnings to how much they put towards the buy in."
However, it soon became apparent that all of that wouldn't be necessary as the offers quickly started to flood in.
Not only will he be playing, but his flights have also been paid for, he'll be meeting loads of top players, and top poker clothing brand RunGood have sent him an entire box of threads to wear whilst he's there.
He's also been offered some coaching sessions from other pro players.
Michael explained: "I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and support from the poker community.
"It still feels like a dream. I was extremely excited and it can't get here soon enough!
"Some of the top poker pros have offered me free coaching, Maria Ho paid for my flight, top pros who I've always been huge fans of have agreed to a meet and greet, and many people have given me money just to help with accommodations and food.
"[Poker pro] MJ Gonzales is the one who initially offered to put forth the full $10,000 and then Jonathan Depa offered to split it with him."
Gonzalez later tweeted to say that everyone involved is happy for Michael to keep 100 percent of what he wins.
But, getting there is one thing. You've then got to perform on the tables.
Michael added: "I'm no stranger to the game, so I feel very confident.
"It's such a large tournament that it takes a lot of patience, focus and a lot of luck which will hopefully be in my favour!
"There will be thousands of players there with more experience, skill, and knowledge, but with a little luck on my side I think I can do pretty good!
"I'm so incredibly excited, words don't do it justice and it still feels like a dream."
"I'm just so forever grateful to everyone who made this possible.
"If I'm lucky enough to make it to the end then I'll be playing a lot of poker."
The winner will be crowned on November 17, and - should he make it to the end - the winner usually takes home a prize that runs to several million dollars.
Let's hope the cards fall in Michael's favour because that truly would be some story.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Michael Graydon
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