MIAMI, Fla. – International children’s charity Kids Wish Network announced today that Minnesota teen Blake Brunner’s dream of meeting the Miami Marlins has come true. Thanks to the Miami Marlins and generous sponsors, Blake traveled to Marlins Park for a VIP tour and to hang out with two of his favorite players, Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson. Kids Wish Network is an international charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations.
“There are few things that are more satisfying than being able to put a smile on the face of a child struggling with a life threatening illness. With the generous support of donors and partner organizations, like the Miami Marlins, we are able to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of children every year,” said Anna Lanzatella, Executive Director of the Kids Wish Network.
Blake is a teen who never lets anything get him down, not even his condition. Seventeen-year-old Blake was born with a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, which both enlarged and weakened his heart. Although born with it, he was not diagnosed until just this year after developing an infection. Surgeons implanted a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that helps pump his blood and he is currently being monitored. Blake was also placed on the heart transplant list just in case the LVAD does not work as planned.
One of the things that has helped Blake overcome his many obstacles is his love of sports, especially baseball. So, when he was given the chance to have a wish granted through Kids Wish Network, it came as no surprise to his family that Blake asked to meet his favorite baseball team, the Miami Marlins.
“Blake is a huge baseball fan,” says Blake’s father, Steve. “And he’s a big fan of the Marlins players. “I don’t think he’s done smiling yet. The players were a class act and just being in a national league park was a thrill to him. It was everything we could possibly dream of and we really appreciate all that Kids Wish Network has done.”
Kids Wish Network sent Blake and his family on an all expenses paid trip to Miami, Florida. At Marlins Park, Blake was whisked into the clubhouse and surprised with a locker set up just for him next to the locker of shortstop Jose Reyes, complete with an authentic Marlins jersey, baseball cap, and other assorted gifts. Blake spent time talking to pitcher Josh Johnson and presented the players with gifts of yellow and blue wristbands that read “Stay strong, Blake.” He was on the field during pre-game stretches and batting practice before watching the big game against the Washington Nationals.
The Marlins featured photos and video from Blake’s visit, as well as this quote from shortstop Jose Reyes:
“It’s very exciting, just to be around that kid … and to see how happy he is to be here. It makes me feel good, because I know those kinds of kids, if they’re around Major League players they’re going to feel good and feel happy at least for the moment,” Reyes said.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for making Blake’s all expenses paid trip and wish so spectacular: the Miami Marlins, Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach, Kelley Fleet, A 2 Z Limousine Inc., Meilan Limo, and Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
For photos and video from Blake’s trip to Miami, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org/media.
For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org.
Every child deserves a chance at happiness; a wish is a way of bringing them that joy. If you would like to sponsor a child’s wish or if you know a child who is suffering from a life-threatening illness and may be in need of Kids Wish Network’s wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004.