T-Cell Leukemia hasn't stopped a 14 year-old local football fanatic of East Amherst, NY from living his dreams.
Buffalo Bills placekicker and Make-A-Wish celebrity spokesperson Rian Lindell teamed with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of WNY to kick off wish child Chris Shahin's Super Bowl trip to South Florida on February 4th.
Chris, who has battled T-Cell Leukemia into remission, is the humble recipient of the 1,800th local wish that the Make-A-Wish Foundation of WNY has granted since their inception in 1992.
"I'm so happy that there are foundations like this to fulfill kid's dreams," said Chris. "I mean, I'm doing pretty well right now and I'd give it to another kid in a heartbeat that isn't doing so well, but I appreciate it anyway."
Lindell made a surprise visit at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport that the Shahin family will remember for a long time. When the limo pulled up to the curb at the departure gate, Lindell was ready. He opened the door to the limo the family arrived in, and warmly greeted Chris as he came out of the car. Chris' big smile and shocked look on his face said it all.
Chris' parents and his little brother looked on with joy as Lindell shook hands with Chris and gave him a bag of football goodies. Lindell signed Chris' football items, took pictures with him and spoke privately with Chris and his family before their flight to Florida.
"Health is much more important than the game," said Lindell. "Everyone watches all of the commercials and the fireworks and stuff, but at the end it's nice to know that someone like Chris is going to have a great weekend. It definitely puts it into perspective."
Chris loves to watch and play football, so when he was asked what his wish would be he quickly decided on a football related wish.
"Football is my first love," said Chris. "I have T-Cell Leukemia and at first they told me I couldn't play football and that was really heartbreaking. But I battled back and went the natural path and by the glory of God I was able to play again this year - and it was a lot of fun. I love playing football."
Twelve youngsters from ten states with life-threatening medical conditions will see their biggest wishes come true when they arrive in South Florida to watch Super Bowl XLIV, thanks to the National Football League and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The wish kids' presence continues a long-standing relationship between the NFL and the Foundation, which was founded in 1980. At Super Bowl XVI in 1982, the NFL helped the Make-A-Wish Foundation grant its first Super Bowl wish.
"Make-a-Wish fulfills kids dreams, kids are really excited to go on these trips," said Chris. "Sometimes for the kids their wish is the last good experience they'll have. I'm just really grateful that I will be able to keep living after this unforgettable experience."
For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit www.wish.org and discover how you can share the power of a wish.