The Make-A-Wish Foundation(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) — Among the thousands of people inside Levi’s Stadium during Sunday’s Super Bowl games will be 14 kids whose dreams are being fulfilled thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Matthew Vega is one of those kids who will sit in the Santa Clara, California, stadium to watch the Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos.
Vega, 19, of Anaheim, California, is a devoted Denver Broncos fan who is in remission from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
“[While] I was getting treatment one of the things that kept me going was the Broncos. That was my team,” Vega, a college student, told ABC News. I kept track of them and would watch every Sunday when I was in the hospital.”
Vega first told Make-A-Wish his wish was to go to the Super Bowl in 2014. His team, the Broncos, made it to the Super Bowl that year but Vega was put on the waiting list due to the high number of kids whose wish is to attend the Super Bowl.
Two years later, Vega is no longer in treatment and he will be going Thursday on his first-ever airplane flight to watch his first-ever NFL game, the Super Bowl with his favorite team playing.
“My whole family are Broncos fans. I was born into it,” said Vega, who will go to the game with his parents and two brothers. “I’m just really happy and thankful that I’m going and that my wish was granted.”
Also attending his first-ever NFL game thanks to Make-A-Wish will be Triston Prince Walton, a 5-year-old born with an interrupted aortic arch.
The condition — described as an “uncommon congenital anomaly” by the National Institutes of Health — has required Triston to undergo five open heart surgeries, including his first at 10 days old.
“He is my miracle baby,” Triston’s mom, Kourtney Walton, of Chicago, told ABC News.
Walton says Triston, who likely has at least two more surgeries in his near future, is a football-loving boy who will use any chance or material he has to set up his own football game.
“Anywhere we go to lunch or dinner, he’ll take a paper from straw and tear it into pieces to have men to play football with, or if he has crayons he cuts them in half,” Walton said. “He’ll watch any games and he’s there watching with whatever toys he has to make his own football game.”
Walton says Triston doesn’t yet understand that he’ll be attending the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl. The young boy does know that he, his mom, his grandmother and his aunt will fly to California to watch his favorite sport played by his grandmother’s favorite player, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
“He’s been rooting for Cam and he says, ‘That’s my granny’s boy,'” Walton said. “But he just knows he’s going to see football and that’s all that matters.”
In addition to Matthew and Triston, some of the other children attending Sunday’s Super Bowl with their families include Adam Crognale, 17, Christian Davis, 10, Christopher Ross, 18, Conor Doyle, 15, Eugene Williams, 15, Gabriel Bartlett, 13, Justin Poitras, 16, Ryan Lohan, 19, Thomas White, 17, Trevor Thomas, 18 and Zahari Andrews, 5.
The young football fans and their families will travel to the San Francisco area from 12 states and Canada. They’ll spend Super Bowl weekend visiting the NFL Experience, touring Levi’s Stadium and meeting surprise guests, according to Make-A-Wish.
Super Bowl tickets for Make-A-Wish kids are donated by the NFL and individual donors. Make-A-Wish has sent at least one kid to every Super Bowl since 1982.
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