Kids Wish Network and Pittsburgh Steelers Grant Special Wish for Young Bus Crash Survivor with Cancer

PITTSBURGH, Penn. – International children’s charity Kids Wish Network announced today that, thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers and generous sponsors, a Colorado boy’s fondest dream have come true. Cesar Madera attended a Steelers practice session, met the team, and spent some one-on-one time with his favorite player, Troy Polamalu. 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.

“It is through the generous support of donors and partner organizations like the Pittsburgh Steelers that we are able to bring the joy of a wish into the lives of thousands of children each year,” said Anna Lanzatella, Executive Director of Kids Wish Network. “Their kind generosity is humbling and we cannot thank them enough for helping us turn so many dreams into realities.”

Nine-year-old Cesar Madera has been a Steelers fan since before he can remember. When he was five, Cesar was diagnosed with metastatic thyroid cancer and treated with a number of surgeries and several years’ worth of radiation therapy. Watching the Steelers on TV was one of the things that helped Cesar cope with his illness and treatment, so it came as no surprise to his parents that, when given the chance to wish for anything by Kids Wish Network, Cesar asked to meet the Steelers in person.

A month after he told Kids Wish Network about his wish, Cesar and his family were involved in a horrific bus crash in Mexico that shattered his leg and severely injured both of his parents. As a result, Cesar’s wish was put on hold until he was able to travel. When his leg had healed, his parents urged him to go on his wish trip along with his sister, Jacqueline, and his uncle, Chris Garcia, who said that meeting the Pittsburgh Steelers was perfect for lifting his young nephew’s spirits.

Kids Wish Network arranged an all expenses paid trip to Pennsylvania, where everyone from the hotel and restaurant staff to the Steelers themselves made sure that Cesar received VIP treatment. He was also showered with gifts at Wyndam Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, Hertz Rent A Car, and Las Velas Mexican Restaurant, who presented Cesar with a football signed by famous Steelers fullback, Franco Harris.

On the day of his wish, Cesar and his family were taken by limousine to the Steelers practice facility, where they were given a VIP tour before going onto the field and watching the Steelers take their team pictures and practice for their game against the New York Jets. After practice, the whole team came over to meet Cesar, including Coach Tomlin, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and strong safety Troy Polamalu. According to Cesar, his favorite moment was spending time with Troy, his favorite player, and asking tons of questions; watching the Steelers win against the Jets from seats in the Hyundai Club at Heinz Field the next day was just icing on the cake.

“Ever since he first learned of football, Cesar has been a Steelers fan and this was a dream-come-true for him,” said Chris. “Everybody made it unforgettable for him. It was just so much fun. He kept saying, ‘I can’t believe they did all this stuff for me!’ Really, it was extraordinary to see. Thank you so much.”

Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for making Cesar’s all expenses paid trip and wish so spectacular: the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houlian’s Station Square, Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, Hertz Rent A Car, Las Velas Mexican Restaurant, Pittsburgh Zoo, Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, Carnegie Science Center, and Kail’s Parking.

For photos from Cesar’s wish to meet the Steelers, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org/media.

For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org.

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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. 

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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.