Over the past week, we've shared the excitement and fun that goes into a Special Spectators game day event for seriously-ill children. If you've followed our blog, you know the day consists of tailgate parties complete with visits by mascots, marching bands, cheerleaders and athletes. We also include locker room tours to meet players and coaches, visits to the press box and other areas of the stadium that are off limits to fans. And of course, watching the game where, during a timeout, the kids will walk on the field to receive a standing ovation from the fans.
Since 2002, we've hosted about 165 of these events for approximately 5,500 patients, parents and siblings and the impact on these attendees is extremely powerful. But you don't have to take our word for it. Read these quotes from the kids and parents who have experienced being a Special Spectator.
"It was great to be able to tell your little boy something like this after what he’s been through. Something like this isn’t anything I could’ve pulled off on my own. To have someone step in and provide us with an opportunity like this is pretty special." D.R. - Father
"I got the surgery this week and that is the major thing because I’m in pain all the time. You can’t really go anywhere when your leg is just there and you’re in a wheelchair. You don’t want to go out because people do stare at you. But then it’s like, Oh, I’m going to this game. I’m going to have some fun. I’m gong to be with the people I want to be with. I’m going to enjoy something that I already like to do." L.T. - Patient
"My son has suffered so and I have cried a million tears, but the joy that you gave these children with Special Spectators will take away some to those sad times. We lay at night talking about the roar the crowd made for those four little heroes who stood on that OU field. Brian’s eyes light up when he tells others about the limo ride and all the special things that happened that night. To those who made it happen, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the joy you brought to these kids who so deserve it." E.B. - Mother
"I wanted you to know what an incredible time he (and his dad) had! He called me every 30 minutes and started our conversation with, “Mom, you aren’t going to believe this!” He had such a great time. Thank you for giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. Not only did Tanner love meeting the coach and the players, he loved the cheerleaders, the sounds, the colors, the whole thing.
Again thank you. What you are doing for these kids will not only give them lasting memories, but boost their self esteem. Tanner loved showing his classmates his memorabilia and pictures. And what an opportunity to be seen on TV." P.J. - Mother
"This was really great. Saturday's game was the first time we've been out as a family, other than holidays and birthdays, in the last three years" L.R. - Mother