Boone County teen meets Pittsburgh Steelers

JULIAN – A teen with a life-threatening illness had her wish to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers granted through Kids Wish Network and the generosity of the Steelers.

At 6-years-old, Cynthia Gay was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract. Because of this, she has endured multiple traumatic surgeries and dealt with both respiratory and kidney failures.

Cynthia is on a strict daily medication regimen and must visit her doctor frequently.

Through another wish granting organization, Cindy’s mother Darlene was referred to national children’s charity Kids Wish Network. Darlene called the charity and told them about her daughter.

They agreed that Cindy more than deserved a wish.

Kids Wish Network Wish Coordinator Vanessa talked to Cindy about her favorite things and the teen went on and on about how much of a Pittsburgh Steelers fan she was; it came as no surprise to Vanessa that when she asked Cindy what she wanted for her wish, Cindy said she wanted to meet her favorite NFL team on their home turf. With the help of Wish Funding Specialist Donna and some outstanding local sponsors, Vanessa set out to organize a wish worthy of the Steelers’ number one teen fan.

“It was all just awesome,” said Cindy of her wish. “Vanessa did an awesome job!”

In addition to organizing accommodations, a trip to the spa and dinners for Cindy and her family in Pittsburgh, Vanessa worked closely with the Pittsburgh Steelers to arrange a weekend that Cindy would never forget: the first day in Pittsburgh, Cindy was escorted to Steelers’ practice field where she watched the team run plays and then had the chance to meet the whole team followed by a personal tour of the Steelers’ facilities; the next day, Cindy and her family got to experience the thrill of attending a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders.

“It was all so great! (It was) amazing!” said Cindy. “I thought I’d only meet one player and I was OK with that, but I met everyone! They all came up after (practice) and someone said “Merry Christmas” to me, and then they all burst into song! I was in shock!”

In addition to getting serenaded by the entire team, Cindy was also given an official Steelers football that every team member signed for her, including her favorite players: Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu.

Watching the game the next day was simply an amazing experience for the teen, especially after having watched the team practice the day before.

“Everything was amazing. It wasn’t like it was just one thing,” said Cindy of her wish. “You know, like (they’d) send you to the game and then home and that’s it. There were so many things … it was all wonderful.”

Now that she’s home, Cindy has likened her wish experience to being treated like a princess and then having to get back to the rigors of everyday normal life.

“Thank you so much, everyone. It was great,” said Cindy.

Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Cindy’s wish extra special: The Pittsburgh Steelers, Tall Cedars of Lebanon, State VFW, VFW Post 5578, Sons of American Legion Squadron 3, Guardian Angel, American Legion 33, ANON, Bravo, Pittsburgh Marriott Airport, Esspa Kozmetika Spa, Bahama Breeze and City Lights, LLC.

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Julian, WV
Published 12/26/09

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48,632 kids helped this last fiscal year through our many programs and services.

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Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.