Tyler’s love for the Colts began at the early age of 2, due to his dad’s influence
“I grew up in Indianapolis and my dad made sure I knew about the Colts,” said Tyler. “We cheered for the team together when I was younger and even after we moved to Arizona, we still root for them when they have a game.”
Over the years, Tyler’s love of football and his favorite team was one thing that helped him through treatments and procedures for his congenital heart defect – a double inlet ventricle that makes it hard for his heart to supply blood to his body.
“Tyler is sidelined for so much in his life due to his illness, but when he became eligible for a wish it lifted his spirits and took his mind off of all he still has to go through,” said his mom, Amber.
Tyler had no hesitation about his wish to meet the Indianapolis Colts and his favorite player, T.Y. Hilton, but he never expected it would happen.
“Tyler was at school when we told him he was going to meet the Colts, and he didn’t believe us. He thought we were messing with him.” said Amber.
Before he knew it, Tyler was in a limo and on his way to the airport, ready to meet the team he had been watching and cheering for on TV every Sunday.
In Indianapolis, Tyler went to the Colts Complex, and received an exclusive tour. He watched the team practice, and received a bag full of Colts gear, including a customized jersey with Tyler’s name on it.
“It made us smile as we stood back and watched Tyler be the center of attention. He was famous for a day,” Amber said.
“Picking only one favorite part is really hard, but I really enjoyed meeting all of the players, especially T.Y. Hilton,” said Tyler. He had unique experiences with each player.
“One of the players asked me to sign his arm because he said I am the strongest guy he knows and Farley told me I am the ‘hypest’ kid ever.”
Tyler also had the chance to join the team huddle at practice and was named the honorary team captain for the day.
While he knew he would be going to the Colts game, he didn’t know exactly what the Colts and Make-A-Wish Arizona had in store for him. Chris Ballard, the Colts general manager, surprised Tyler with sideline seats at the game, and after the game was over, Make-A-Wish sent him to the Indiana Pacers basketball game that same night!
“It was way more than we expected, everyone really stepped it up,” Amber shared. Chris Ballard formed a unique bond with Tyler that day.
“Tyler still keeps in touch with Chris. He updates Chris on his doctor visits, and knows he can text him whenever he wants, and he’ll get a reply,” Amber said.
This experience has left a lasting impact on Tyler and his family. Tyler’s brother always tells people he never imagined he would have a brother who was best friends with a professional football team.
“Tyler is more upbeat and excited now and this experience has made him more positive,” Amber added, “It has given him something to look forward to, and something to get his mind off things. This is something he had dreamed about, and now it is something no one can take away from him.”