INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis teenager got to go to the Super Bowl, thanks to Jim Irsay.
The Indianapolis Colts owner surprised 13-year-old Elliot Preddie with a trip to Sunday's big game.
Preddie and his parents were surprised with a letter from Irsay at Riley Hospital for Children, where Elliot has been a patient since he was a baby. He was born with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disease which leads to blockages that prevent blood from reaching parts of the body. He began treatment at just 6 months old.
Eventually, Preddie needed monthly blood transfusions to treat the disease and also had surgery for Moyamoya, a rare disease caused by blocked arteries at the base of his brain. That procedure "significantly reduces" the chances of Preddie suffering a stroke.
He received a stem cell transplant at Riley in 2019 and later learned his bone marrow grew back completely free of sickle cell.
In the years since his transplant, Preddie has resumed an active life, Riley said, playing football, swimming and Taekwondo — all activities that weren't possible due to the pain caused by sickle cell disease.
The Super Bowl trip not only included two tickets to the game, but also airfare and a hotel, plus a check for $10,000 for however the family wanted to use it.
Elliot took his mom with him to the game, but his father had one request: "Bring me back a Stafford jersey," he said.
The family said they've been a fan of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford since he played for the Detroit Lions.
From the looks of things, Elliot and his mom had a blast.
While some of the gift was spent on enjoying the Super Bowl experience, Elliot's mom Tremesha called the money a blessing that can help pay off some of Elliot's medical bills or help build his college fund.
Irsay also sent a ticket package to a young Bengals fan at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Colton is a 12-year-old who has overcome numerous rare conditions, including a nervous system disorder and cerebral palsy, the hospital said.
Elliott and Colton were part of an entourage of football fans heading to Los Angeles thanks to Irsay and the Colts. The owner gave tickets away to Bengals and Rams fans, as well as an IPS teacher who surprised his parents with the ticket package.