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Make-A-Wish Celebrates 8,000th Wish: A Backyard Football Field for Ryan


September 01, 2017

Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island Celebrates 8,000th Wish:

A Backyard Football Field for Seven-Year-Old Ryan of Melrose

New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski Made Surprise Appearance at Wish Reveal “Tailgate” Party Today

Boston, Mass. (September 1, 2017) – On September 1, seven-year-old wish child Ryan Feeney of Melrose, MA, received his wish for a New England Patriots-themed football field in his backyard, marking a major milestone – the 8,000th wish granted by Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 

As part of his wish experience, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island hosted a “tailgate” wish reveal party for Ryan, his friends, family and community of supporters at his home in Melrose on September 1 from 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.  New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, as well as Pat Patriot, the Patriots mascot, made a surprise appearance.  Ryan received a personalized Make-A-Wish football jersey, scoreboard, team benches, bleachers and custom “Ryan Feeney Field” sign for his new field, which features the New England Patriots logo at the 50-yard line.  In addition, Ryan practiced some football drills with players from the local Melrose High School football team on his new field.

At four months old, Ryan was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF1), a genetic disorder of the nervous system consisting of aggressive tumors in the central nervous system that causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body.  As a result of his illness, he developed tibia dysplasia and received a below-knee amputation at age two.  Ryan now uses a prosthetic leg and recently decorated it with Patriots logos.  Currently, he is undergoing chemotherapy for an optic nerve tumor that has compromised his vision, but still finds joy in watching his favorite team, the New England Patriots on television and looks forward to playing with his friends and family on his very own field with this heartfelt wish come true.

Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island is celebrating 30 years of granting wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions, beginning in 1987 with the granting of a wish for a family trip to Maine.

“Ryan is such a brave and inspiring young man and it’s an honor to grant his wish for a backyard football field which will undoubtedly bring him joy for many years to come,” says Charlotte Beattie, Chief Executive Officer of Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  “We extend our deepest gratitude to all of our generous supporters who have enabled us to reach this significant milestone in our 30th anniversary year, providing joyful wish experiences to thousands of seriously ill children throughout the community.”

“It is always moving to see people come together to support wish children like Ryan,” said James Mattie, Board Chair of Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “Surpassing this significant milestone of 8,000 wishes granted offers us an opportunity to reflect on how wishes capture our hearts, inspire communities, and most importantly, instill hope and joy in children and families when they need it most.”

About Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island

Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island grants wishes for children between the ages of 2½ and 18 years of age with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. For a child with a life-threatening illness, a wish fulfilled provides profound joy and lasting hope to keep fighting and dreaming for the future. In its 30-year history, the organization has granted 8,000 wishes for children in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Visit Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island at for more information, to make a donation, or to learn about volunteer opportunities. Find us on Facebook at, Twitter at and Instagram at


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Press Contact

Lauren Cotter
Director, Wish Program
One Bulfinch Place, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA  02114

Phone : (617) 367-9474
Fax : (617) 367-1059

Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island
One Bulfinch Place, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 367-9474
Back Line (617) 367-0739
Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island, West Springfield Office
181 Park Avenue
Suite 12
West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 733-9474

Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Providence Office
20 Hemingway Drive
East Providence, RI 02915
(401) 781-9474