When Andrew thought about what he wanted his wish to be, the first and only thing he ever considered was going to a Patriots game and meeting Tedy Bruschi. Andrew wanted to meet him not only because he was a Patriot, but because he'd also undergone heart surgery for an undetected congenital heart defect and then returned to the football field. The Make-A-Wish foundation granted Andrew a meeting with Bruschi and a return trip in the fall to attend a Patriots game.
Sharing Andrew's excitement was something that seven years ago I never dared dream. You see, "heart parents" don't have the innocent luxury of dreaming that far ahead in their child's future. Instead, we spend many hours praying just to see their first feeding without a tube, their first "good" echocardiogram after surgery, and their first birthday. So the weeks and days leading up to the trip to Boston to meet Bruschi made me feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. For the first time my happiness for Andrew felt pure. I was watching Andrew experience something truly phenomenal, without worrying about anything that could possible go wrong.
When we arrived at Gillette Stadium, Andrew's eyes were as big as saucers. He was shy when he met Tedy, but he shook his hand and I could tell Andrew was thrilled because he couldn't take his eyes off him. Afterwards we went down the hallway to the room where the Super Bowl trophies are kept. This was the most exciting part of the day because holding the trophies made Andrew feel like he'd actually won a Super Bowl.
We continued down the hall and downstairs to the locker room where much to Andrew's surprise, his name was on an official nameplate hanging over a locker that was filled with a complete uniform in just HIS size!
We then walked onto the field and I looked up and saw Andrew's name on the jumbotron and seeing his name was suddenly overwhelming. As the facemask on the helmet started to open I saw my littlest Patriot running towards the opening, hands in the air and for that brief moment he WAS a Patriot. And for the first time throughout the entire experience, I cried. I cried because my little boy who'd already been through so much in his short life was fulfilling his once in a lifetime dream of running onto the field as a Patriot.
Then it was off to the Patriots' locker room, where another surprise awaited. Tedy was showing Andrew some things in his locker, when he picked up the game ball he had received from last year's playoff game against the Jaguars and presented it to Andrew. Somehow that football seems to carry an energy of greatness and accomplishment that will forever remind Andrew of the power of the human spirit.
It was something Andrew will carry with him forever, an indescribably special moment in an unbelievable afternoon.
Editor's note: You can send your well wishes to Andrew Geracoulis by clicking here.
If you want to know more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation or donate to the cause click here.