If you’re a New England Patriots fan, what could be better than spiking a football with Rob Gronkowski?
Thanks to Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, 7-year-old Ryan Freeny had that chance in early September, according to the Melrose Free Press.
Ryan has neurofibromatosis (NF1), a genetic condition in which tumors grow on nerves throughout the body and often cause bone deformalities, problems with vision, learning disabilities and high blood pressure.
Due to severe tibia dysplasia, Ryan had his leg amputated below the knee at two years old, and now years later, he’s receiving chemotherapy treatment for an optic tumor.
When asked what his wish was, the big-time Patriots fan requested a backyard football field.
So, with this being wish No. 8,000, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island went big. They painted end zones, hash marks and a Patriots logo at mid-field on the grass, inserted bleachers and team benches, and named the stadium “Ryan Freeney Field.”
A tailgate party was held to reveal the backyard field, which is where Gronkowski made his epic entrance to surprise Ryan.
As the big man walked in, Ryan’s jaw dropped and he sprinted over to Gronk like they were old friends.
“He couldn’t believe what he saw when Gronk came in and he had to hug him to make sure it was all real,” Ryan’s mom Jill Tozza told the Melrose Free Press. “I think the emotions he was feeling led him to just run towards Gronk and give him a big hug. Who wouldn’t want to do that.”
Ryan and Gronkowski tossed the ball back and forth before the Patriots tight end developed some custom plays for Ryan, and most importantly, taught him how to “Gronk spike.”
Take a look at the video:
It wasn’t just Gronkowski who made the day fun. Melrose High School football players and cheerleaders attended the tailgate to cheer Ryan on, and an anonymous firefighter landscaped the yard.
It really is true. It takes a village to elevate a child (and teach him how to properly spike a football).