New England Patriots superfan Ryan, 7, 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!
At four months old, Ryan was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder 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. He now uses a prosthetic leg and is currently undergoing chemotherapy for an optic nerve tumor that has compromised his vision.
For Ryan, playing football might be a little more difficult than it is for some kids, but his nickname is “Ryno” because, according to his dad, “He just keeps charging.”
As part of Ryan's wish experience, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island hosted a “tailgate” wish reveal party for Ryan and his family and friends. The surprise reveal held an even bigger surprise for Ryan: a visit from New England Patriots tight end Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski! Ryan was elated to try out his field doing drills with Gronk and football players from Melrose High School. He was also presented with a personalized Make-A-Wish football jersey, a scoreboard, team benches, bleachers, and a custom “Feeney Field” sign just as he requested. And, his field features the New England Patriots logo at the 50-yard line!
“Ryan’s smile was priceless and it captured exactly the way he was feeling,” according to his mother Jill. “Truly an amazing day for Ryan, his brother, our family and friends, and the Melrose community.”
“We extend our deepest gratitude to all of our generous supporters who have enabled us to reach this significant 8,000th wish milestone in our 30th anniversary year," says Charlotte Beattie, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island CEO. "It is through tremendous community support that we have provided joyful wish experiences like Ryan's to thousands of children throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island.”
All photos courtesy of Erica Ferrone Photography