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Steelers' Will Johnson leads fundraiser for 11-year-old with leukemia

Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Will Johnson, who helped the family of McKenzie "Mighty McKenzie" Flohr raise more than $6,000 for her leukemia treatment, got a big one planted on his cheek as soon as he walked into McKenzie's hospital room.

Once again, she outsmarted her dad.

"I used to tell her she'd never kiss a Steeler," Matt Flohr said jokingly. "This brought a spark back in her."

Matt Flohr is a single father of twin 11-year-old girls, one of whom is undergoing phase two of chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

The family has insurance through Matt's railroad company but bills are starting to pile up.

Johnson wanted to help. He heard the story of McKenzie through friend J.R. Toothman of Toothman Ford outside of Morgantown, West Virginia, where Johnson played in college for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The two decided to hold an autograph session, which took place on Saturday at the dealership. Johnson recruited teammates Matt Spaeth and C.J. Goodwin to sign with him.

They drove nearly four hours there and back on an off day. Later that day, Johnson visited the hospital with his wife, Jessica. The couple brought cookies.

"He's raising them by himself and she's going through so much but they are in such strong spirits -- I was uplifted by the whole situation," said Johnson, who grew up with a single mother. "She's a very upbeat young girl. You would have thought she was 22 years old by the way she held a conversation."

McKenzie -- whose family printed purple "Mighty McKenzie" T-shirts that the dealership helped pay for -- has been concerned for the family throughout her treatment, so much so that she started Googling medical bill estimates for AML treatment.

She saw a $500,000 figure, though dad assured her any amount of money was secondary to her health. She didn't want to lose her home, Matt said. She's always been considerate.

She didn't care about any of that on Saturday.

"For an NFL football player to come spend time with her and help the family raise money, she knows they don't have a lot of free time," Matt said. "This really meant the world to her."

The event garnered 200-to-300 people who paid for autographs, Toothman said. Grafton is a rural area where many people "probably never have the chance to meet a pro football player or go to a Steelers game," Toothman said.

The community has a friend in Johnson, who said he savors the chance to use his platform for others.

"I'm blessed and fortunate to be healthy and be in the situation I'm in," Johnson said. "I just love to help give back any way I can."