The Day Carson Wentz Met His Biggest Fan
The second day of the Eagles 2019 training camp was a day that one little boy will never forget. Giovanni Hamilton was surprised by his parents and the founder of Bianca's Kids in the early morning hours of Friday, July 26th. That was when he learned that he was going to Eagles Training camp instead of the children's hospital as he was originally told. The 11-year-old was completely blindsided and really hoped that he would get the chance to meet his hero, Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz.
As soon as we got to training camp Giovanni was excited to see the Lombardi trophy, hang out with Swoop, meet Noah the Eagle, and get his photograph taken with the NFL 100 football. He moved from each photo opportunity quickly though as he couldn't wait to get out to the field to see the players. Giovanni and his green wheelchair led the group to the tent by a substantial distance with his "Fly, Eagles, Fly" flag blowing in the wind. He just couldn't wait to see Carson Wentz and the rest of the Eagles in action.
Giovanni pulled his power chair up to the barrier to watch the players come out of the facility and take the field for practice. He got to high five many of the players as the entered the field like Fletcher Cox, Malcom Jenkins, Brandon Graham, Jalen Mills, and Jason Peters just to name a few. Just those interactions would have been more than enough for Giovanni that day, but little did he know, a magical moment was coming in just a couple of hours.
As the team practiced, Giovanni told his story to the Eagles staff. He explained to them that he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Schwartz-Jampel syndrome. Giovanni explained all 12 of his surgical procedures to them ranging from hip surgery to his most recent mandible jaw lengthening surgery. He watched as others enjoyed the catered lunch provided by Chickie and Pete's knowing he couldn't eat anything because he cannot chew with his surgically broken jaw. Then in a flash he was back on the sidelines watching the team get to work. While Giovanni was observing practice, we were approached by the Team President, Don Smolenski. He handed Giovanni and his siblings coins and offered to host Giovanni and our family up in his office for practice in the air conditioning if Giovanni became too warm. Giovanni didn't care how warm it got that day though. There was no way he was leaving the sideline. Giovanni wasn't going to do anything that would hinder his opportunity to meet Carson Wentz.
The summer sun was unrelenting that day, however, and breaks from the sideline were needed for everyone. After we returned to the tent for a break, Giovanni met Howard Eskin from Sports Radio 94 WIP. Mr. Eskin was kind enough to not only pose for a photograph with Giovanni, but he also let Giovanni try on his Super Bowl ring. Giovanni was completely amazed by how light the ring was compared to how heavy he thought it would be.
By this point, practice was nearly over and the sun was just bearing down on everyone, so Giovanni chose to watch the rest of practice from the tent. He got his football ready for signatures as he knew the players would be coming past soon to enter the NovaCare facility. He was so anxious and hopeful that Carson would come over to say hello. Giovanni just had to tell him that Carson was his inspiration through his latest surgery. Every day when Giovanni had to have his pins turned to lengthen his jaw he would tell us that he would come back stronger just like Carson came back stronger from his knee.
Giovanni pulled up to the barrier with his football full of excitement. He got to meet players like Corey Clement, Lane Johnson, Malcom Jenkins, Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, Dallas Goedert, Fletcher Cox, Nate Sudfeld, Jake Elliott, and more. DeSean Jackson came over, signed Giovanni's jersey and posted a photo of them together on his Instagram story.
Then Giovanni noticed a red jersey coming down the line. He had already met Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler. That could only mean one thing. Carson Wentz was coming. The moment was finally here. Giovanni was going to finally meet Carson Wentz. He was getting so excited and immediately asked me to get his Wentz jersey ready to be signed. When Carson finally made it to Giovanni, he just could't control his emotions anymore. He was so happy he began to cry happy tears and only managed to tell Carson that he was his hero. I explained the rest of what Giovanni wanted to say to him though my own tears. We dreamed of this moment and talked about it for weeks while we turned the pins to lengthen Giovanni's mandible jaw more than an inch. We told ourselves all that heartache would be worth it. That moment made it all worth it.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a very talented football team on both sides of the ball, but what is even better than that is that they have the biggest hearts. The organization as a whole is just incredibly kind-hearted. They showed a little boy who has literally been to hell and back the time of his life by just spending a few minutes with him. Those few minutes will stick with Giovanni forever, and when he is going though surgery again he will look back on July 26, 2019 with a full heart. As for Giovanni, he hopes to work for the organization one day as a head coach. With his love of the game we have no doubt he will put everything he has into that dream and we know he would fit perfectly in their culture of kindness.