My Dream is to experience a game and meet the Atlanta Falcons!
Tristan Kelly is an 11-year-old from Concord, NC. When he was just under two and a half years old he was diagnosed with autism. The doctors told his mom that he may never be able to have meaningful social interactions and struggle academically. However, Tristan has been able to prove them wrong. While he may not communicate the same as others he is still able to tell you what he wants and what makes him happy. He loves all kinds of animals and anything related to cars, especially the Cars movie and Lightning McQueen! Although he does not interact much with his peers this does not stop him from having fun with whatever he’s doing. Tristan relies on a very strict routine daily to help maintain structure in his life. An unexpected change or surprise can be very disruptive and difficult for him to adapt to. He has a strong team behind him though to support him through every challenge he faces. Autism will not define Tristan or prevent him from achieving his goals.
Tristan’s sports dream is to “experience a game and meet the Atlanta Falcons.” In addition to animals and cars, Tristan also loves football. He enjoys watching games on TV, especially his favorite team, the Atlanta Falcons. Tristan gets his love for the Falcons from his mom who has always been a big fan. He’s grown up cheering for them and even had a Falcons-themed birthday party this year! Born and raised a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, it would be a dream come true for Tristan to be on the sideline of one of their games to experience it first hand.
Typically when we meet a Dream Kid for the first time it is a small gathering with just the family and a few DO3 team members. However, with Tristan, this was not the case. When we first met him it was in the evening of our 24-hour online campaign, DO3 Begins With Me. Since Tristan loves football so much we brought him to Jerry Richardson Stadium, home of the UNC Charlotte 49ers. After letting Tristan play on the field we brought him inside to the team’s meeting room where he was greeted by the players and coaches of the 49er football team. It was there that CEO Brandon Lindsey and Stephen Vaughn with Xcel 2 Fitness told Tristan that his dream was going to come true! The response and support from the football team was more than we could have ever imagined and they truly helped make this moment extra special for Tristan. Not only did they cheer him on, but head coach, Brad Lambert, told Tristan “they wanted him to be a 49er, too” and presented him with a football. With the support of the local university football team behind him, he knows that he can tackle anything.
The Dream Experience
December 2, 2016: Dream Kid Tristan thought it was just another schooldream-kid-tristan-8 day at Patriots Elementary, but little did he know the Dream Team was about to surprise him with some big news! All of the 5th grade was gathered in the gym for a special assembly when Dream Leader Mike Dascal and founder of Excel 2 Fitness, Stephen Vaughn, let Tristan in on the secret: everyone was there for him. They gathered all of his teachers and classmates (they even made him signs to congratulate Tristan!) to let him know that his Dream to see the Atlanta Falcons play was going to come true that weekend. Everyone in the room was so excited for him, but the surprises for his VIP Send Off didn’t stop there. A quick trip home in a limo from American Chauffeured Transportation revealed that we had a Mister Softee ice cream truck specially come to his house. Tristan enjoyed his favorite treat and even got to get in the truck to see what it was like!
The next day Dream Kid Tristan and the Dream Team were off to Atlanta with a little help from Adventure Vans. Our first stop was at Slingshot, they’re Atlanta’s largest indoor entertainment center. While there Tristan got to show off his skills on the ninja obstacle course! From bowling to arcade games, Slingshot had it all and it was the perfect place to play for the afternoon. We then went to the Hard Rock Cafe Atlanta where we enjoyed a wonderful meal and even better people!
Sunday came and everyone was excited for the big game, but no one was more ready than Tristan! He’s been cheering for the Atlanta Falcons his whole life and he was finally going to see the field he’s only see on TV in person. It’s a moment that is special to every super fan and can’t even be described in words, but the look on his face said it all! We arrived at the Georgia Dome for pre-game warmups on the sideline and Tristan got to meet both Taylor Gabriel and Matt Bryant. It was a close game and even though the Falcons lost by 1 point, everyone still had a lot of fun! Matt Bryant even kicked a 59-yard field goal during the game which tied a team record. We’re not saying Tristan is his good luck charm, but we’re not saying he’s not either. After the game we headed to the Georgia Aquarium where Tristan got to see all kinds of animals, including an American Alligator! All in all it was a wonderful weekend filled with all of Tristan’s favorite things – ice cream, animals, and the Atlanta Falcons. It was a weekend he’ll always remember and a Dream come true!