MILWAUKEE, Wis. – International children’s charity Kids Wish Network announced today that, thanks to the Green Bay Packers and generous sponsors, the dreams of a Nebraska teenager have come true: Caleb Friesner was given the opportunity to meet the Green Bay Packers, tour Lambeau Field, attend a practice session, and spend time with one of his favorite players, Clay Matthews. Kids Wish Network is an international charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations.
“Every day, we work to ensure that children facing life-altering experiences are given the opportunity to smile a little brighter. With the generous support of donors and partner organizations, like the Green Bay Packers, we are able to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of children every year,” said Anna Lanzatella, Executive Director of the Kids Wish Network. “We continue to be humbled by the generosity of the partners who have helped us make dreams come true.”
As an enthusiastic sports fan, 15-year-old Caleb is used to scrapes and bruises. However, when he began to develop a number of bruises without any apparent cause, he and his parents began to worry. At the hospital, tests showed that his red blood platelet count was extremely low. After an initial diagnosis of leukemia, Caleb has since been diagnosed with Evans syndrome – a rare autoimmune disease. This condition has dangerously enlarged Caleb’s spleen and made him vulnerable to infection. In fact, Caleb has been hospitalized by six different infections in the past eight months alone.
Though this illness has taken quite a toll on his body, Caleb’s spirits remain high and he maintains his love of sports, especially football. When a Kids Wish Network Wish Coordinator asked Caleb what he wished for, he asked to meet his favorite football team: the Green Bay Packers.
“He’s just always been a huge Packers fan,” said Caleb’s mom Mindy. “When he thought that he would be able to actually meet the team and maybe see a practice, he was so happy. Caleb’s wish went above and beyond all my expectations. Everything I wanted to happen for him happened and more. It was a perfect wish.”
From the minute Caleb stepped onto the Packers’ famous Lambeau Field, he was in awe. Throughout the tour, Caleb was treated like a VIP, and when he visited the locker room, he found a locker just for him, complete with a personalized Packers jersey and football. When he was taken down to the Packers’ practice facility, Caleb was able to meet the team and was even given the special task of going on the practice field and breaking the Packers’ huddle. Though a little star struck, Caleb ran forward when Coach Mike McCarthy called for him and broke the huddle with “1, 2, 3, go Pack!” Afterwards, he was able to visit with Coach McCarthy and some of the other players, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers and placekicker Mason Crosby.
Caleb’s favorite moment came at the team dinner when many of the other players came over to him to introduce themselves and sign his football, including one of his favorites, linebacker Clay Matthews, who stayed to chat with the teen.
“Caleb had a smile on his face a mile wide the whole time,” said Mindy. “I got teary-eyed a few times at the pride everyone had in showing everything to Caleb…he’s still in seventh heaven and he’s still beaming. I would like to thank everyone for making the chance of a lifetime come true for my son. This meant the world to us and it would never have happened without Kids Wish Network.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for making Caleb’s all expenses paid trip and wish so spectacular: the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Brewers, Tundra Lodge’s Waterpark, Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport, Cambria Suites, Avis, Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Branded Steer, and Marco’s Pizza.
For photos from Caleb’s trip to Wisconsin, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org/media.
For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit www.kidswishnetwork.org.
Every child deserves a chance at happiness; a wish is a way of bringing them that joy. If you would like to sponsor a child’s wish or if you know a child who is suffering from a life-threatening illness and may be in need of Kids Wish Network’s wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004.