MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Florida-based children’s charity Kids Wish Network announced today that, thanks to the Minnesota Vikings and generous sponsors, the dreams of two young Minnesota boys have come true. Kirk Peterson, who suffers from epilepsy, and Zac Gustafson, who has cystic fibrosis, both attended a Vikings practice session, toured the practice facility, met the team, and played some football on the field with their favorite player, Percy Harvin. 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.
“The Minnesota Vikings have proven that they are true partners in our work to bring a bit of joy into the lives of children suffering with life altering experiences. Kids Wish Network will continue to do everything we can to turn the wishes of the tens of thousands of young people we serve into realities,” said Anna Lanzatella, Executive Director of Kids Wish Network.
Ten-year-old Kirk Peterson and 6-year-old Zac Gustafson have a lot in common: they both live in Minnesota, share a passion for the Minnesota Vikings, and suffer from life-threatening illnesses. Kirk deals with daily seizures due to intractable epilepsy, while Zac suffers through strict daily medication, therapy and diet regimens to combat cystic fibrosis. Kirk and Zac were also both given the chance to have wishes granted through Kids Wish Network, and they each chose to meet the Minnesota Vikings.
Kids Wish Network arranged all expenses paid trips to Minneapolis for Kirk, Zac and their families. Everywhere they went, the boys and their families were given special treatment; Kirk and Zac were even given child-sized Vikings helmets and other gifts by the Marriott Minneapolis City Center.
“We were all given the red carpet treatment,” said Zac’s mother, Sue Gustafson. “I think it was good for the kids to see how special they are. It was just a fabulous weekend all around.”
On the day of their wishes, Kirk, Zac and their families were driven to the Vikings’ practice facility in limousines and given a special, VIP tour that included a chance to sit in the chair of Vikings owner, Zygi Wilf. They watched the Vikings practice before being escorted directly onto the field and into a huddle with the team members. During their meeting with the players, wide receiver Jerome Simpson gave each of the boys one of the gloves he was wearing during practice. The boys were also bombarded with autographs and signed memorabilia before being invited onto the field to play a little catch with their favorite player, wide receiver Percy Harvin.
According to Sue Gustafson, Zac was in heaven playing catch with Harvin, while Kirk ran right over to his mother when they were done and proclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!”
“We cannot thank you enough for the joy you brought back to Kirk,” said Kirk’s mother, Dana Peterson. “This was life changing for all of us.
Sue Gustafson shared this sentiment with her fellow wish mom: “I didn’t think this wish would change us that much, but it did. It really did. You changed all of our lives. Thank you.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for making Zac and Kirk’s all expenses paid wishes so spectacular: the Minnesota Vikings, The Depot, Marriott Minneapolis City Center, CRAVE, Buca di Beppo, Zelo Restaurant and City View Limousine.
For photos from Kirk and Zac’s wish to meet the Vikings, 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.