For years, the make a wish foundation has granted wishes to children experiencing life-threatening medical conditions. The charity provides hope, joy and inspiration to the lives of children in an otherwise somber situation. More often than not, children who qualify choose to attend sporting events or interact with their favorite athletes, and that’s exactly what a young Giants fan decided to do when granted a wish.
During Friday’s practice, 15-year old Adam Merchant stood in front of a New York Giants team that had just lost two consecutive games for the first time this season, and seemed to be stuck in yet another one of their mid-season slumps. The young boy addressed the team with a simple message.
“I told them to go out and play like they are world champions,” Merchant said. “I just came from the heart.”
Merchant’s messages was heard loud and clear as the Giants put on their most impressive performance of the season, defeating the Packers 38-10 at Met-life Stadium Sunday night. The Giants looked crisp, rested and motivated in route to a performance that put the NFC conference on notice. During the bye week, head coach Tom Coughlin stressed to his team they had to get back to their winning ways. But sometimes it takes a voice outside the locker room to drive home a message.
“It was profound,” defensive captain Justin Tuck said. “Certain people can tell you that but when you see an innocent kid tell you that you need to play like a champion. …I told him that he needs to go into motivational speaking because he really woke us up.”
Merchant, who had been battling Burkitt’s lymphoma which is currently in remission, provided the Giants with the extra motivation they needed to pull off a victory over the Green Bay Packers — one of the hottest teams in the league riding a five game winning streak coming into Sunday night.
“The message was loud and clear,” head coach Tom Coughlin said.” And that’s basically the challenge that we kept throughout the weekend and in our Saturday night meetings — play like world champions.”
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who forced an Aaron Rodgers fumble and turnover, said Merchants words had “a hug effect on us, he could have gone anywhere in the world (with his wish), but he chose to come here.”
It’s ironic Merchant’s favorite team would be the New York Giants. Like him, they’re used to facing adversity in eyes of defeat and fighting when their backs are against the wall. And just the Giants’ players of 2011, Merchant saw his dream materialize into a reality on a Sunday.
“It was amazing”, Merchant said. “It was a dream come true.”
For information on the make a wish foundation, visit www.wish.org