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15-year-old cancer survivor's love for Broncos, Packers leads to TV show

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Ad Pro Test Clip 218 - March 2017 (1:00)

Ad Pro Test Clip 218 - March 2017 (1:00)

AURORA, Colo. -- It's straight up 2 o'clock in the Mile High City, and here come the hot takes.

On the Saints' victory over the Falcons: "I certainly didn't see that coming."

On the Dolphins defense under new coach Dan Campbell: "The Dolphins are going to have another seven sacks; that's a bold prediction."

That failed fake punt by the Indianapolis Colts? "May have been the funniest play -- it's up there with the Butt Fumble with funniest bad plays."

Is it ESPN? No. One of the growing list of sports radio shows? No, again. Instead, these observations about the NFL come from 15-year-old Daniel Hailpern, who is the host of "The DPR Show." And it all happens once a week, in the nicely appointed studios on the first floor of Children's Hospital Colorado.

Hailpern, a high school sophomore and cancer survivor, spent nine months as a patient at Children's, before and after his bone marrow transplant. He has been hosting the show since Week 2 of the 2014 NFL season. It's broadcast throughout the hospital -- Channel 45 on each room's television -- to children, like him, who want desperately to walk out the front door, go home and go back to their normal lives.

"We always talk about football, but we cover a lot of other things too, things we're thinking about, funny things, stories -- it's all in there," Hailpern said. "We really don't have rules, well, other than we want to pick all of the games."

Hailpern is the hospital's Broncos ambassador -- he has a business card -- though he also has plenty of football affection for the Green Bay Packers. He will be on the sideline, with Andy Lindahl, a reporter for the Denver Broncos' flagship radio station, for the first half of Sunday night's game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

"[Hailpern] is a rock star," said Cody Hudson, who works at Children's. "Everybody here knows Daniel."

Hudson and Chris Coleman, from Children's, and Mark Haas, a sports reporter for the CBS affiliate in Denver, join Hailpern on "The DPR Show." But he's the star. He's a fighter, a dreamer, a kid with an idea to talk sports, who is 11 months and change out from the transplant that allowed him to return to life, school, his friends and, as of earlier this month, the soccer field.

Hailpern hardly needs a you-are-here map to find his way around Children's. He missed his freshman year because he was in one of the hospital's beds as he was treated for leukemia. He is closing in on a year since his bone marrow transplant in November, so far along now that his once seemingly infinite list of medications and antibiotics are "almost nothing," his mother, Nadine Hailpern, said.

And on this particular Tuesday, as Daniel settles into his seat and lowers the microphone to do his show, Nadine carries a form she has filled out in hopes of finding the donor who saved her son's life.

"You make the request, and they decide how much they want to reveal," Nadine said, as Daniel studied the last few football nuggets on his laptop, preparing to drop that knowledge on children in the rooms above him. "I hope they want us to know. Whoever it is they are like family; they are our family. Just look at him."

Yes, just look at him. Hailpern has done the show from his bed on seventh floor, the center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. He's done the show on good weeks and weeks that were "tougher, maybe, than some others."

It all began because of a contest. Children's asked patients to write a Broncos song, to the tune of Frozen's "Let It Go." The best song would win tickets to a Broncos preseason game. Hailpern won -- "When he handed it in, he said 'Here's your winner,'" Hudson said -- but could not go to the game because he was still undergoing treatments.

The song on the video is what the hospital decided to make into a show. Soon Hailpern was picking games, giving analysis and dishing opinions. On a recent Tuesday, Hailpern said if he were coaching the Broncos he might consider benching Peyton Manning if things on offense didn't improve.

The hourlong show roars by; patients, so young with so much to deal with, come into the studio or watch through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Some draw on the wall-sized whiteboard in the room.

Hailpern and the others have played Family Feud with Broncos players and Broncos cheerleaders. "I was like Steve Harvey," Hailpern said. They've created expansion NFL teams and done the DPR combine -- complete with 40 1-yard dashes. Hailpern even spent a show on the history of professional football.

"The show? Now that was a great time, a great time," said Broncos linebacker Todd Davis, who along with Demaryius Thomas, David Bruton Jr., Brandon Marshall, Corey Nelson, former Bronco Ben Garland and Broncos cheerleaders have been guests. "He just knew everything about the Broncos, about the league, everything. You sat down and he was ready to go. I'd do it again any time. I loved being on that show."

At the show's end there's talk of a flu shot and the faces people make when they get them. Hailpern tucks his laptop under his arm. Bingo, yoga and the "Superhero Spotlight" will be coming across Channel 45 in the days that follow.

"But Tuesday, we'll be back," Hailpern said. "I love it; I'm glad I can do it, and you always hope people like it. That's important, that people like it and that I really try my best."