HOUSTON, Texas – International children’s charity Kids Wish Network announced today that, thanks to the Houston Texans and generous sponsors, the wish of a Colorado Springs boy has been granted. Christian Vaught was given the opportunity to meet the Houston Texans, tour Reliant Stadium, attend a game, and spend time with his favorite players, quarterback Matt Schaub and defensive end JJ Watt. Kids Wish Network is a Tampa-based charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children who have experienced life-altering situations.
“Every day, we are privileged to grant the wishes of these special children through the generous support of donors and partner organizations like the Houston Texans,” said Kids Wish Network Executive Director Anna Lanzatella. “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. We will continue to work with our partners to do everything we can to provide opportunities through our wish granting programs.
At the age of two, Christian was diagnosed with a rare condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth, which affects the nerves in the brain and the spine and progressively weakens the muscles and nerve functions, making it difficult to walk. Christian must wear braces from his feet to his ankles and relies on a walker for long distances. He has also suffers from speech apraxia – in which he has trouble communicating what he wants to say – and Chairi malformation, in which the brain tissue protrudes into the spine, causing pressure. For the Chiari malformation, Christian needed a decompression surgery on his brain that lasted six hours. For weeks after the surgery, Christian was very ill and had to endure a spinal tap and suffer through the implantation of a lumbar drain to help remove some of the excess fluid.
Now five years old, Christian was given the chance to have a wish granted through Kids Wish Network and asked to meet his favorite football team, the Houston Texans. The charity arranged an all expenses paid trip for Christian, his younger brother, and their parents to travel to Houston. In addition to tickets to the Texans’ game against the Colts, Christian and his family were also treated to dinners every evening and trips to the Space Center Hudson and the Downtown Aquarium.
“Christian enjoyed everything,” said his mother, Christine D’Andrea. “But his favorite part was definitely meeting the Texans. They took such good care of us out there that we felt like family!”
Before the game, Christian and his family were given a special VIP tour of Reliant Stadium that included the Texans’ cafeteria, gyms and locker rooms. Before the game, Christian was greeted outside the locker room with high-fives as the players prepared for the game. Following the excitement of attending his first football game, Christian couldn’t believe his eyes as he was led down to meet his favorite player, quarterback Matt Schaub.
Schaub sat down with Christian and spent time talking to the little boy and presenting him with a signed official Texans jersey, a signed football, and a division hat. When it was time for Schaub to leave, he proclaimed that Christian was his hero and he told Christian to stay strong. Then, Christian was invited onto the field to play a little catch with his dad before being joined by defensive end JJ Watt, who tossed the football with Christian and made him feel like a part of the team.
“Christian was just delighted,” said Christine. “His smile couldn’t get any bigger! And he didn’t have to worry about anything during his wish – no therapy, no doctors, just relaxing. I can’t explain how blessed we are that this all happened. Thank you so much.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for making Christian’s all expenses paid trip and wish so spectacular: the Houston Texans, Embassy Suites Denver International Airport, Enterprise, Holiday Inn Houston Reliant Park, Space Center Houston, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Spicy Pickle Sandwich Company, Downtown Aquarium, and Olive Garden.
For photos from Christian’s trip to Texas, 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.