When he was 5-years-old, Kyle Pepin of Bangor was diagnosed with Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy. His mother, Barbara, said she was heartbroken by the diagnosis and now, years later, the two do not know how life would be without Duchenne’s in their life.
“We try to keep as normal a life as possible,” said Barbara. “Kyle is like every other 16-year-old boy, but many times people do not know how to approach someone in a wheelchair. It is hard to approach someone that’s different from you.”
Kyle has grown into a shy, introverted young man who primarily keeps to himself. However, a room full of 31 Patriots cheerleaders, blowing him kisses put a big smile on his face.
When the Patriots played the Cowboys, Kyle was escorted to Gillette stadium in his first-ever limousine ride to have his wish come true: to meet the Patriots cheerleaders.
Kyle received VIP treatment from the moment he stepped the limo. On his way to meet the cheerleaders in a private room, he had an unplanned surprise meet and greet with Tom Brady who stopped briefly to give Kyle a fist bump before eventually helping to win the game.
“My mouth was wide open,” said Barbara. “I was too scared to ask for a picture with him because we figured he was busy right before the game!”
But, Barbara did snap many photos of the next event which was when each cheerleader greeted Kyle and showered him with gifts and autographed photos. The cheerleaders made Kyle his own Patriots jersey with his name on the back.
“The girls made him feel like they requested to meet him instead of the other way around,” said Barbara. “They made him feel so special.”
To watch the game, Kyle and his mom were seated in a private media box with a buffet of food and two cheerleaders took turns sitting next to Kyle during the first and second halves of the game. Ashley and Brittani asked Kyle about school and chatted with him about the life of cheering.
Before each woman left, they gave Kyle a pom-pom, which Kyle didn’t want to put down and even said he would sleep with them next to his pillow at night.
On the way home, Barbara asked her son how he liked his Wish day.
“Mama, I felt rich for a day,” said Kyle. “I wish I could be as happy as those girls are everyday.”
The experience made Kyle bubble over with stories that he told to his aunt and grandfather. He would not go straight home on the way back from Gillette. First, they had to stop to develop the pictures of his wish so he could bring them to school the next day.
Barbara was grateful for the experience of not only Kyle meeting the cheerleaders and the VIP treatment at the game, but for the fact that his disability wasn’t an issue for one day.
“He was a normal person that enjoyed a football game. He was beaming. Beyond that, it wasn’t just a football game. It was a life-changing… an opportunity of a lifetime… I was very overwhelmed with the feeling, the positive energy and happy atmosphere… everything. I could never give him that. I will always always always be grateful for this. He talks about “my girls” every day. It’s something more than words can describe. I’m struggling for words, but this is an amazing high that we are not going to crash from… it will linger for years, if not a lifetime.”
Thank you: New England Patriots and Cheerleaders, Make-A-Wish Foundation of MA and RI, Bristol Coach and Limousine, Hudson Seating and Mobility, Wish Granters Brandi Moore and Ashley French.