In late March, Austin FC and the Club’s founding partner St. David’s HealthCare worked together with Make-A-Wish to turn seven-year-old Austin FC fan Eli Saenz’s soccer dream into a reality. Eli attended an Austin FC training session, played soccer with his favorite players, and was invited to Austin FC’s match vs. Colorado Rapids as a special guest of the team.
“We feel honored to have had the opportunity to spend time with Eli and help turn his dreams into a reality,” said Austin FC Vice President of Community Impact Trennis Jones. “Eli is an incredibly brave and impressive young man. Seeing his smile and watching him spend time with his heroes was a privilege for everyone involved.”
Throughout his courageous and ongoing battle with cancer that is currently in remission, Eli’s passion and support for Austin FC and the sport of soccer has shined brightly. His love for the sport, the color green, and the atmosphere at Q2 Stadium motivated him to pick an experience with Austin FC as his wish.
Eli Saenz's Wish Comes True with Austin FC and St. David's HealthCare
As part of Eli’s visit to St. David’s Performance Center, he ate lunch with Austin FC players and received his own personalized Austin FC kit and team jacket. During the match, Eli and his family enjoyed field-level seats and received a full tour of the stadium.
“At Make-A-Wish, we believe that there is nothing more powerful than making a child’s wish come true. Research shows that a wish gives kids the resilience, courage, and strength they need to fight their critical illnesses,” Ann Jerome, president & CEO of Make-A-Wish, Central and South Texas, said. “Seeing the joy on Eli’s face during this very special wish experience with Austin FC says it all! We are grateful to the entire Austin FC organization and team, St. David’s Health Care, and to the Austin community for granting this extraordinary wish for Eli and his family. Eli’s wish doesn’t signify an end or just one happy moment in time…it truly has the power to transform and inspire not only his life but the community that surrounds him.”
Eli is the first child to receive a wish through a collaboration between Austin FC, Make-A-Wish, and St. David’s HealthCare.
“Eli is an incredibly courageous boy, and we are proud to partner with Austin FC and Make-A-Wish to make this wish possible,” Denise Bradley, vice president of communications and community affairs at St. David's HealthCare, said. “Seeing how happy he was when he walked onto the pitch with thousands of fans cheering was priceless. Austin FC truly made this a memorable experience for Eli and his family.”
Make-A-Wish is the largest wish-granting charity in the world and fulfills the wishes of children with critical illnesses to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.