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Football fanatic Emily, 16, takes her family to watch Super Bowl XLIX

“ It wasn't a dream. It was real and it was the best experience of my whole life! ”

- Emily

Emily loves football. Her entire face lights up with joy when she explains that her room is fully decorated with her favorite team’s memorabilia and she won’t go into a single surgery without her Sparky doll.

“Oh and I’m Facebook friends with nearly every player on Arizona State University’s football team, including their coach Todd Graham,” Emily adds. 

Emily, 16, who is diagnosed with a life-threatening genetic disorder, started watching football when she was 7 years old. Since then, the sport has become her greatest passion and she seems to know all of the latest news about players and statistics before anyone else.

“She’s only ever missed two ASU games, and that’s because she was having brain surgery,” said Emily’s mom, Heather. “Emily has four brothers and I don’t think they will ever be as football crazy as her!” 

And for such a fanatic, the moment you hear that you will be going to the Super Bowl is almost as incredible as the big game itself. Not to mention the fact that it will be hosted in your hometown. 

Emily’s wish reveal was announced at Sun Devil Stadium last fall. Her whole family was able to go down onto the field and Sparky came out to surprise them with the incredible news. 

“It wasn’t a dream,” Emily said. “It was real and it was the best experience of my whole life!” 

After months of anticipation and excitement, Emily joined 12 other wish kids from across the country to go to Super Bowl XLIX. Her week was full of events and activities, including a private tour of University of Phoenix Stadium, where the Arizona Cardinals play, and meeting players at the NFL Experience. 

“I met Patrick Peterson and he gave me a signed helmet!” Emily said. “Then I looked down and waved at my parents while I was on stage, I felt like a celebrity!” 

Her mom said one of the biggest surprises, and something she never expected, was the entire family being able to attend the game with Emily. 

“We have six kids,” Heather said. “Emily’s sickness affects all of us, but it is fun for the whole family to have a distraction and something good to think about.” 

And it seems like everyone enjoyed different parts about the Super Bowl. 

“My sister was really excited to see Katy Perry and my brother is a huge Patriots fan, and we got to see the final play right in front of where we were sitting,” Emily said. “I’m just so happy I can barely think of my favorite part!” 

Even after the big game, Emily is still talking about her wish to every person she meets. Her family was gifted with so much NFL swag that they are actually donating some of it to Emily’s clinic to make other children happy. 

“Make-A-Wish Arizona gives kids a chance to do something they normally would never get to do in their entire lives,” said Emily’s dad, Hannibal. “It’s helped Emily keep her mind off aches and pains, and now we can share our wish experience with others." 

As for Emily, she’s already planning for next year’s Super Bowl. 

“I think we’ll have a big party,” she said. “And I predict the Cardinals will make it to the Super Bowl.”

  • Emily's wish was revealed at one of her favorite places, Sun Devil Stadium.

  • All of the wish kids spent some time on the field.

  • Emily and Make-A-Wish Arizona's President and CEO Elizabeth Reich.

  • Football player Torrey Smith poses with Emily.

  • Players signed their autographs for wish kids.

  • The wish kids at the NFL Experience.

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