NASHVILLE –The Boys in Gold welcomed a new teammate for their next home match at Nissan Stadium Thursday night. Ten-year-old fan Colby will be suiting up as the honorary captain on Saturday, July 27 as part of a bigger soccer wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation yesterday.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation’s mission is to grant wishes of children diagnosed with a critical illness. On average, the Make-A-Wish foundation grants a wish every 34 minutes, and luckily last night for Colby, he learned that his wish of meeting international soccer superstar Lionel Messi was finally going to come true.
As a soccer fanatic, Colby knew that the one thing he wanted to do most in the entire world was meet his soccer hero face-to-face, but a wish of that caliber requires some time, preparation and a little patience. That’s when Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee’s President and CEO Beth Torres called in Nashville Soccer Club as a reinforcement.
“Soccer is the thing that’s getting him through treatment,” Torres said. “It’s what he talks about, it’s what he lives for. Colby is a true [Nashville SC] fan, so when we asked him if he would come and would hang out with a couple of players, he said absolutely. He couldn’t wait.”
Nashville SC players Taylor Washington and Connor Sparrow met with Colby and his family at the Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee chapter’s new office location before the surprise ceremony began. Colby beamed with excitement when he shook their hands and proudly sported a navy NSC jersey alongside his older brother. Washington and Sparrow were just as thrilled to meet Colby as he was to meet them.
“Being able to meet Colby has already been so much fun," said Washington. "The fact that he loves soccer and for us to be here is just a special blessing. To me, this is always the best part about being a pro. Being able to inspire, shine some light, take something away from whatever challenges or adversity that they’re going through and just remember that life is a bundle of fun.”
From the outside looking in, Colby appears to be just a normal child who loves soccer. However, he was born with a congenital heart defect, a medical issue that doctors once said would prevent him from ever playing sports. Colby bravely underwent six heart surgeries, and with strength and determination is now able to take the field and play the sport he loves.
“Having to overcome so much at such a young age, I think anything in soccer will be cake," Washington continued. “He had to fight for his life so when he steps on the field and he’s battling for the ball, I think that will be the easy part of everything.”
An hour after meeting the pros, Colby’s friends, family and fellow Wish Kids gathered at the office and anxiously waited to see his reaction to the good news. When the announcement was made on stage, Colby let out an excited yell, but had no idea that there were more surprises to come.
Washington and Sparrow joined Colby on stage and presented him with a new gold Nashville SC jersey and tickets to the match at Nissan Stadium on July 27 as a “bonus wish” to his original dream to meet Messi. They also announced that Colby would be joining the team as an honorary captain, getting to be on the field for warm ups and more.
Watching from the side of the stage, Colby’s mom Becca was elated for her son. She knows that these experiences will motivate him even more by bringing him positivity and hope.
“It’s kind of hard to even put into words,” Becca said. “Just being here tonight has been incredible. Just watching his face and the surprise. Just the love and the generosity of Make-A-Wish is just incredible. It just makes my heart so happy to see him so happy. When he was born, we were told he would probably never get to play sports so the fact that he’s even able to continue playing at 10 years old, and now to get to meet Nashville Soccer Club players that have been incredible tonight, and then to meet Messi is just unbelievable.”
When asked what he thought of the surprise, Colby couldn’t stop smiling. Now in his new gold Nashville SC jersey, he summed up what he was most excited about in a few words.
“Getting to be with the players.”
But for the Boys in Gold, they are more honored to be with him.
“To us, he’s a hero,” Washington said. “He’s had to endure so much and go through so much. So many people say as many times as we do how awesome it is for them, for the young kids, but for us, it’s even more inspiring. It gives us something to continue to push for.”
Join Colby at Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium on Saturday, July 27 as the team takes on second-place Indy Eleven at 7:00 p.m. CT. The match is an opportunity for fans to preview Nashville SC in its inaugural MLS season stadium. Click here to purchase your tickets. To learn more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, click here.