Tonight’s wildcard matchup with the New Orleans Saints held a special significance for all Eagles fans excited to see their team back in the playoffs. But for one teenage boy, the game was literally a wish come true.
Nick Kelchner is a 14-year-old boy from San Diego, California who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. Despite living in the West Coast, Nick’s family has ties to our area, which is how the teen became a diehard fan of the Eagles. Yet while he cheered for the Birds whenever he got the chance to watch them on television, Nick was never able to watch them live…until Saturday.
“We were aware he was a fan,” said Matt McCloskey, founder and chair of the Take a Breather Foundation, an organization that grants wishes for children who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis. “I asked his father if Nick had ever been to a game. He said no and I said we have to make this happen.”
Members of the Foundation flew Nick and his father from San Diego to Philly and gave them tickets to the game.
“This is so awesome! I can’t believe I am going to the game!” Nick said when he first heard the news.
Nick arrived in Philly at 6 p.m. and was there in the stands to cheer on his favorite team.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease affecting the lungs, digestive system and other organ systems. It causes mucus to build up in the lungs which leads to life-threatening lung infections. Approximately 30,000 people, including McCloskey, suffer from CF.
The average life expectancy for someone with CF is 38 and there is currently no cure. At the age of 45 however, McCloskey has beaten the odds and has dedicated his life to helping the dreams of children like Nick come true.
"We hope these memories will strengthen their hearts and minds as they battle the psychological, emotional and economic turmoil that accompanies life with Cystic Fibrosis,” McCloskey said.
To learn more about Cystic Fibrosis and donate, visit the Take a Breather website.