The Philadelphia Eagles made some big plays on their way to a Super Bowl victory, but in terms of making an impact, none of those actions on the gridiron will come close to what they did for Giovanni Algarin, a 10-year-old who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that affects his bones and muscles.
Giovanni has Schwartz Jampel Syndrome, which is characterized by muscle weakness and stiffness, abnormal bone development and permanent bending of joints in a fixed position. He’s had 10 different surgeries, including a full right hip reconstruction in 2016. His left hip is dislocated, as are his elbows. He also has carpal tunnel in both wrists.
Because of his condition, he can’t play sports. However, he’s a huge fan of many. At the top of the list? Football. His favorite team? None other than the Eagles.
After learning about Giovanni’s passion for Eagles football, former quarterback coach John DeFillippo (now offensive coordinator of the Vikings) FaceTimed the boy on Christmas Eve as head coach Doug Peterson and injured quarterback Carson Wentz were nearby.
Before DeFillippo turned the phone over to Wentz, he invited Giovanni to the team’s New Year’s Eve home game against division rival, the Dallas Cowboys.
Following the call, Giovanni broke down in tears of joy.
“He understands with his condition and because he will need full hip replacements one day that he will never be able to play, but Giovanni is determined to be a coach or general manager for the Eagles one day. His career path was set by this one experience I think,” his mother, Shannon Algarin, told WPVI-TV.
Here’s video of the special call:
Of course weeks later, Giovanni wanted to celebrate the Super Bowl win with his team, so his mom set up a fundraising page to “help get Giovanni to Philadelphia for the Super Bowl parade.”
“Our family lives about 4 hours away so we are hoping to raise funds to help get him into town for the parade and possibly stay in Philadelphia the night before,” she wrote. “Long car rides can be difficult for Giovanni since he had his hip reconstruction surgery in 2016. Money is tight with all of Giovanni’s medical needs so we really appreciate any help to make Giovanni’s dream come true!”
The family asked for $300, but the goal was quickly surpassed with more than $1,100 raised.
“It’s going to be like the game. I’m not going to have a voice at all,” Giovanni told WENP.
As you can, it was one of the best days of his life.
— Team Giovanni (@realsjsgiovanni) February 8, 2018
“Normally when we come down here [Philadelphia], it’s for Giovanni’s appointments and surgeries. We usually don’t get good news when we come down here, so to actually come down here and to have fun and celebrate our favorite team ever, this is great,” Giovanni’s father, Gian Algarin, said. “This is awesome. It’s definitely a change of pace. It was definitely a trip worth taking.”
Oh, what a win can do.