ATLANTA, Ga. (April 2018): Wish Kid Yossef loves sports – he’s especially passionate about soccer. He’s no stranger to challenges. As a newborn, he underwent multiple surgeries for an intestinal blockage, and spent the first 3 months of his life in the hospital. He also has cystic fibrosis, an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body. Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life threatening illnesses, wanted to further inspire Yossef’s love of soccer, kicking off his wish in a very special way.
Atlanta United FC Forward Brandon Vazquez, graciously recorded a personalized video message for Yossef, revealing that he would be a ceremonial kicker at one of their upcoming games.
Then the unthinkable happened… Yossef wasn’t feeling well and was hospitalized less than a week before his wish. Kids Wish Network, his family and friends were all pulling for Yossef. It was coming down to the wire and uncertain whether his dream would still come true. Wishes, hope and having something special to look forward to are very inspiring. Like a soccer champion, Yossef was determined to make his goal. On the fifth day of Yossef’s hospitalization, the very day before his wish was to take place… he was released from the hospital. It was game on!
On game day, Yossef was excited to arrive at Mercedes-Benz Stadium where he was immersed in his favorite pastime. “I got to go on the field and see all the players,” said Yossef. “It was really cool.” Yossef was also invited to carry out a very special honor. He felt like a soccer star on the jumbotron, being the ceremonial kicker and celebrating the start of the game. “Once I did the kick, everyone realized that I was the one on the field,” said Yossef. “I felt like I was famous.”
Afterward, Yossef and his family enjoyed watching Atlanta’s Josef Martinez lead the team to victory with a hat trick. Atlanta United FC also kindly gifted Yossef with a team jersey and soccer ball as mementos of his amazing day.
“My favorite memory was when Yossef did the ceremonial kick,” said his mom Fadwa. “He liked the experience so much and dreams of returning to play there someday.”
During the wish, the family had a wonderful stay at Homewood Suites by Hitlton Atlanta – Buckhead. They also enjoyed memorable dining at the Hard Rock Café and Molly B’s, experiencing stunning views of Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s field.
“Listening to each child’s dreams and creating a personalized wish makes their extraordinary moments very meaningful,” said Kids Wish Network Executive Director Tam Lai. “We’d like to thank Atlanta United FC for all their hospitality and making Yossef’s dream come true so special.”
Kids Wish Network is a national charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Visit www.kidswishnetwork.org to learn more and find out how you can help makes dreams come true and sponsor a wish for a deserving child.