BOXFORD, Mass. (AP) — Kalvin Tragethon of Boxford knows first-hand that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his team have a huge heart.
On Nov. 1, the 11-year-old who lives with complex heart defects, and five other young men from across the country, got to meet Brady at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, thanks to a partnership with Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the Patriots.
“He was awesome,” Kalvin said of his meeting with Brady. “He was really funny. Just amazing, and you know, that day, I was in kind of my own little world — it was hard to come out of it.”
The kids played catch with Brady and got to go behind the scenes at Gillette Stadium. They received personalized jerseys, and took photos with a Super Bowl ring, according to the Make-A-Wish organization. They even got to run through the giant Patriots helmet and onto the field to the rock song, “Crazy Train,” where they were met by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Kalvin, a fifth grader at the Spofford Pond School, was born with several complex heart defects, explained his mom, Kristen, who has another young son, Finn, 6.
“He had open heart surgery when he was five days old,” she said of Kalvin. It was a 10-hour bypass procedure. Kalvin has had six subsequent procedures, including one a couple of years ago. He’s seen on a regular basis at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Kalvin looks healthy, his mom said, and people don’t realize he has a heart condition from just looking at him. Kalvin says he keeps active, and he likes skiing, flag football, baseball, soccer and boating.
A couple of years ago, he was watching a video on YouTube about a child with a heart defect who got to meet Red Sox shortstop Dustin Pedroia through Make-A-Wish. Kalvin asked his mother if he could get a wish, only it was Brady he wanted to meet.
“He knew exactly what he wanted,” Kristen said. She, in turn, filled out a form for the wish. The organization, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions, eventually contacted the family and Kalvin’s doctors, and interviewed the family at their house. Kristen said the “local volunteers were amazing” in the way they would keep in contact with them.
Kalvin missed the cutoff last year to meet Brady, so he’s been waiting two years to meet his football hero.
Kristen said it was great to see her son so happy to meet Brady.
In a video of the meet-up posted on Patriots.com, Kalvin has a funny encounter with Brady while standing on the field and talking with the quarterback while his mother stands nearby. Kalvin’s dad, Lars, was also there that day.
“I’m glad you like the Patriots,” Brady tells Kalvin.
“I love the Patriots,” Kalvin replies.
“Good,” Brady says.
“I also like Ohio State,” Kalvin adds.
“What?!” replies a shocked Brady, his voice rising, while Kalvin and his mom both laughed.
Brady played for Ohio’s rival, Michigan, in college. Kalvin even gave the quarterback an Ohio State No. 12 jersey as a gift, his mother said.
Kalvin became interested in football because both of his mother’s parents are in fact Ohio State alumni, and they are also big Pats fans. Kalvin also read up on Brady’s college career, and how he struggled to win the starter’s job at Michigan.
“I threw it in there,” Kalvin quipped, about his Ohio remark to Brady.
Kalvin also got to shake hands with and meet wide receiver Julian Edelman, then go to the trophy room to see the Patriots’ four Lombardi trophies.
Another big highlight was meeting the other Massachusetts Make-A-Wish participant, Christopher Furtado of Cohasset. Kristen said the two bonded, and the families have exchanged information so the boys can keep in touch.
“I met a lot of friends,” Kalvin said.
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