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Remember little Carter Hucks? He's visiting Duke Johnson (but still doesn't know it) today for NFL Draft.

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  Remember Carter Hucks, 8, the third-grader from Charleston, South Carolina, who, thanks to the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, lived out a dream last October by spending a few days with the Miami Hurricanes?

 He and his parents are surprising him tonight with a visit to his favorite football player, running back Duke Johnson, as Johnson awaits the NFL Draft to learn where his football career will continue.

  "Carter doesn't know they're coming here,'' said Cassandra MitchellDuke's mom. "Duke is excited.''

  The NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. tonight (first round) and continues Friday and Saturday.

 Diagnosed with Fanconi anemia -- a rare genetic blood disorder -- Carter underwent a bone marrow transplant in early November, and according to his mom, Jessie, is doing very well.

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Carter turns 9 June 29th, has gained at least 10 pounds" and looks a lot different, a lot older,'' Carter's mom, Jessie Hucks, just told me from her car, where Carter is fast asleep.  Carter "is on an immunosupression medication that makes his hair grow more,'' she said. 

Jessie said Duke and Carter "have talked a few times'' and that Duke and his mother call to check on him.

"They've been super nice to our family,'' Jessie said. "So far, so good with Carter. We haven't really had any serious complications. He has to avoid certain social situations, so we pick and choose our spots. He can be around people if they're not sick. It's a balance. You don't want him to feel isolated, but you don't want to go overboard.''

Jessie said Derrick, her husband, told Carter they're going on a business trip for Derrick, and that the hotel doesn't have cable or Internet to watch the draft.

 "He has mentioned a few times that he's sad he's going to miss the draft and the [Mayweather-Pacquiao] fight,'' she said.

He'll be able to see it all at Duke's grandmother's home in Port St. Lucie, where Cassandra said tonight her family and some close friends are having a barbecue.

"We don't expect Duke to be drafted Thursday but we'll be here cheering for [UM offensive tackle] Ereck Flowers and [receiver] Phillip Dorsett and [linebacker] Denzel Perryman, who all could go in the first round,'' Cassandra said.

"On Friday it's an all-out party here.''

Jessie Hucks said Carter "will probably smile, laugh and say, 'Why didn't you tell me?!'" when they arrive at Duke's grandmother's.

"He doesn't like jokes pulled on him, but in the end he'll be very happy.''

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SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN 

 

   

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