BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Blessed and grateful. They're emotions Nas Jackson feels every day.
"To just be out here, doing what I love to do and having the opportunity to do it, that feels great," he said.
Nas is a wide receiver at Buffalo State who has an ongoing battle with systemic lupus.
He's used to being a fighter, but it took on another meaning this summer when his athletic career and education were put on hold due to the school's COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
Nas is allergic to seven different antibiotics and during one of his last chemo treatments, went into anaphylactic shock. If he were to have a reaction to the vaccine, treatment wouldn't be easy. It's why he applied for a medical waiver, but that waiver was denied by the school's medical board. In a letter sent to the Jackson family, the Weigel Health Center at Buffalo State College said he "didn't meet the requirements to be contraindicated to receive the COVID-19 vaccine."
The entire process and the highs and lows of being denied was daunting and frustrating, but if anyone knows the Jackson family, they don't give up easily.
While the football team began practices, they continued to fight from home and provide any and all information they could. They reached out to the Lupus Foundation and stayed in constant touch with his doctors. On August 23rd, the fight paid off. The further and more detailed information regarding Nas' medical history was enough to get his medical waiver approved.
"It was a lift for the whole team, the program, just to see him go through another battle and come out the other side victorious," football coach Christian Ozolins said. "It was just huge."
Nas is doing things differently in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. He takes his water breaks separately from his teammates and has to wear a mask when around others both on the field and in the classroom. None of that matters as he continues his football career and more important, works toward his college degree.
Nas' story had a happy ending as he plays his senior season with his closest friends and teammates, but it doesn't mean he's stopped fighting.
"It's bigger than me. It's bigger than lupus," he said. "It's about that equality that everybody has that chance and that opportunity. It's always gonna be a fight. You've just gotta stay strong during those times and that's what it's really about."
Nas Jackson's humble attitude makes him the fighter, advocate, and student-athlete he is today; determined to succeed and determined to make a difference.