The gymnasium is crowded, the chants increasing, and the speculation is growing: who will be the number one draft in this year’s Make-A-Wish Draft? Off to the side of the room sits five-year-old Adam, anxiously awaiting his moment. Adam was adopted from China and fell in love with American football while he watched his two older brothers play for their high school. So it didn’t surprise anyone when he wished to be a football player.
It was officially wish day and Carolina Panthers president, Danny Morrison, was finally ready to announce his overall, number one selection for the 2010 Make-A-Wish Draft. Morrison walked up to the podium and announced: “With the first selection in this year’s Make-A-Wish Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Adam.” The crowd went crazy; Adam’s dreams were finally becoming reality.
The next day was Adam’s first official day as part of the Carolina Panthers team. He arrived at practice where he received his game gear and his own locker. Adam was in charge of “breaking down” the practices with his chant, “Beat the Falcons on three!” Sunday was Adam’s first “game-day” as part of the team, where he was recognized as the special guest of the Carolina Panthers and Make-A-Wish. Adam really enjoyed spending that Sunday afternoon with Panthers mascot, Sir Purr.
The surprises didn’t end that weekend, though. The Carolina Panthers also had the number one draft pick for the 2010 NFL draft, and they asked Adam to be their guest of honor and help welcome their newest player, Cam Newton, during the national press conference. Standing at the podium, Adam looked at Cam and responded to the media, “Cam, welcome to my team.” The whole press room laughed and cheered as Adam handed a personally autographed hat to Cam Newton, who happily returned the favor to Adam with an autographed hat of his own. This was a moment that neither Adam nor Cam Newton will forget.
Adam’s family is very thankful for the opportunity Make-A-Wish and the Carolina Panthers provided their son. Adam’s father Greg said, “Many adopted children struggle to assimilate into their new family, and Adam’s wish experience helped him realize how important he is to us and so many others. Adam has been through so much in his short life and mostly without the support of a “forever-family.” When we found out he would have his wish granted, it was awesome.”
Adam’s wish continues to stick with him today, as the other children at his school recognize him as a Carolina Panther and always want him to play on their team during recess. His father smiles when he remembers the impact Adam’s wish had: “He slept in his jersey and helmet every night for several weeks.” If it is up to him, he will never stop sleeping in it. It’s a constant reminder that his dreams are a reality.