Make-A-Wish recipient gets unprecedented access to Notre Dame football team
Two teenagers were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience thanks to Notre Dame and Make-A-Wish of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Joe Riggs from Illinois and Patrick Whitehead from Michiana were given unprecedented access to the Notre Dame football team.
Whitehead is a 2018 Penn High School graduate and was raised a die-hard Irish fan.
He knew the opportunity would be cool but he never expected anything like this.
Just three hours after Whitehead was born, he was sent to Riley's Children's Hospital where he was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis a condition that causes seizures.
"It was April 11th I think when I had my open heart surgery," Whitehead said.
Just four months shy of his second birthday he had another surgery to remove the tumors from his brain.
Tuberous sclerosis and epilepsy have become part of his everyday life
"It just made me open up my eyes and realize how life can be taken away from you any second," Whitehead said.
He had gone 12 years without a problem, but when he turned 17 Whitehead had another seizure.
That's when his mom Christy reached out to Make-A-Wish of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
They helped Whitehead's dream of meeting the Notre Dame football team came true.
Whitehead is a self-proclaimed introvert, but he is passionate about Notre Dame football.
He even has a blog on Instagram dedicated to Irish sports with more than 800 followers.
"Notre Dame was the first thing I could think of. I grew up a die-hard fan and I just never really got the inside sneak peeks of the university," Whitehead said.
Whitehead was given an all access pass to Notre Dame Football from the locker room to the indoor practice field.
He took center stage at the pep rally and the video board in Notre Dame Stadium.
Whitehead roamed the sidelines on game day and got to meet former Irish stars like Sam Mustipher and Romeo Okwara.
Whitehead says the best part was just hanging out with the players.
For Whitehead the impact Make-A-Wish provides goes beyond the once in a lifetime experience.
"I'm grateful for it. It was really fun and just the fact that I was chosen for it is a blessing for sure," Whitehead said.
While Whitehead loves Notre Dame and is considering a career in sports media, he would also like to be a youth pastor.
He says his faith has gotten him through the toughest times in his life and he hopes to use his experience as a way to help other kids who are struggling.