You might never guess that 16-year-old Christopher of Wahiawa is battling a critical kidney disease. In fact, many of his closest friends don’t even know. The aspiring football star doesn’t usually talk about his condition, and he never lets it hold him back. Instead, he focuses solely on the future and his dreams of playing for the NFL. Football has been an integral part of Christopher’s life for as long as he can remember; in addition to playing, he loves watching games with his family and bonding over a shared passion for the sport.
When Christopher learned he was eligible for a wish, it was--at first--a jarring reminder of his condition. He and his family wondered if it meant his kidney disease was worsening and how that might affect his future goals. But after his doctors and wish granters allayed his fears and explained that the true purpose of a wish is to deliver strength and hope, he started to dream. And, of course, for a football enthusiast like Christopher, a wish come true could only mean one thing: attending the Super Bowl.
Christopher dreamed of meeting NFL Hall of Famers and witnessing their talent firsthand in the country’s most competitive, prestigious game of the year. During the planning process, he told wish granters Kristen and Brittany, “I’ve never been to the Super bowl, and it would be a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing. When I think about my wish, I see all around good vibes.”
Christopher soon learned that he would be one of a record 19 wish kids from across the United States and Canada to experience a life-changing, football-fueled weekend at Super Bowl LIV in Miami. The weekend included a welcome reception at Dave & Buster’s, a behind-the-scenes tour of Hard Rock Stadium, red carpet access to the NFL Honors event, seats at the big game, and other unforgettable opportunities.
Said wish mom Vimarie, “Every day had a new, unexpected surprise in store.”
Perhaps the most memorable, though, was meeting favorite players like Ray Lewis in person at the NFL Honors event. “After seeing all the NFL players and how much work they have to put in, it made me want to work harder for my goals,” said Christopher. “Attending the Super Bowl just gave me an even harder push to work, study, and apply myself to get there someday.”
Vimarie has seen this change in her son and is inspired by the impact of his wish. “As a family, seeing Chris experience everything at the pro level was amazing. The chance to see Chris smiling day in and day out without any worry made it all even better,” she said. “He is looking at life in a positive light. All he’s done during and after the trip is talk about how much work he wants to put in to play at the next level. He is constantly telling us that his disease will not stop him from reaching his goals.”
Christopher’s advice for other wish kids is simple: “Find your true desire, go for it, and enjoy it!”