Tennyson, 7, had his wish come true when he met NFL all-time great Larry Fitzgerald!
Growing up on a farm in rural South Dakota, Tennyson enjoys spending his time outside. Inspired by watching a cardinal eat from a birdfeeder in his family's backyard, Tennyson quickly formed a love for the Arizona Cardinals, developing a passion for the sport and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Meeting Larry was the obvious wish choice for Tennyson.
Being diagnosed with leukemia came unexpectedly to Tennyson and his family. “The hardest thing at first was to tell him, and he didn't understand. He felt healthy, so he couldn't understand why they kept checking,” his mom Diana said. Questions of recovery and odds haunted his parents’ thoughts.
Surrounded by his family, Tennyson sat in his home, watching videos of Larry Fitzgerald on the computer. Suddenly, a special message from Larry to Tennyson played on the screen in front of him! Tennyson’s face lit up in amazed disbelief as he listened intently to Larry’s instructions. At Tennyson’s door step was a package from Larry with Cardinals memorabilia. A few days later, Tennyson was off to Arizona for training camp!
During his week stay in Phoenix, Tennyson had the opportunity to be truly immersed into the lives of real NFL players—Cardinals style. Over the course of two full days at training camp, Tennyson was kept busy by his new pal, Larry Fitzgerald. Larry hooked him up with an Arizona Cardinals uniform, even sharing his number 11 with him. Tennyson even walked away as a real Arizona Cardinals football player after signing an official NFL player contract. To top off this experience of a lifetime, Tennyson was called onto the practice field by Larry to score one final touchdown! After showing off his moves and performing his signature touchdown dance, Tennyson was hoisted into the air by Larry and cheered on by the team before heading home.
When he was granted his wish, Diana felt the impact this experience had on Tennyson. “It is really hard to put into words the overwhelming feeling of joy that we had seeing Tennyson living out his wish. To see Tennyson's face when he got to meet Larry Fitzgerald and to see Larry get down on his knee to Tennyson's level brought tears to my eyes! Larry made him feel like they were instant friends. Tennyson has been through so much in the last year and a half that it was such a special treat for him not to think about his leukemia or his next appointment or treatment. Through his wish, he was able to forget about all of this for at least a few days”.
One of the biggest takeaways from Tennyson's wish was a grown passion for his favorite team. “Tennyson has a greater appreciation and love for Larry Fitzgerald and the whole Arizona Cardinal team and staff. When he watches highlights, he is no longer watching his favorite player and team...he is watching his friends!”
Apart from meeting Larry and spending time with the Cardinals, Diana also expresses an unexpected blessing from the family's wish experience: “Everyone, including his wish team from Make-A-Wish South Dakota, staff from Make-A-Wish Arizona, the national Make-A-Wish representative, the whole crew from ESPN, Larry Fitzgerald, all of the Arizona Cardinals players and staff, and the airline staff, went out of their way to make Tennyson and our family feel so special! We have kept in contact with almost all of them and consider them all friends!”
“We are forever grateful to the Make-A-Wish organization and every person that donates time and money to this wonderful organization. They put in so much time and effort into making Tennyson's wish a reality. He will never forget this experience, and our hope is that Tennyson will always remember how many people were a part of his special wish!”
Tennyson’s wish was captured by ESPN and featured in the network’s “My Wish” series. You can watch Tennyson’s episode here: