The Super Bowl champion New York Giants might not be the easiest group of men to inspire. But after their win against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Coach Tom Coughlin and the team agreed there was something, or rather someone, pushing them to fight extra hard.
The person that inspired these NFL superstars is Adam Merchant, 15, of Barre.
"It was one of the greatest things in my life," Adam said.
The greatest because it was a lifelong dream come true after Adam waged his own battle off the field. Adam was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in March. His family was strong for him but privately in pain and worried.
"He would say I just want to give up and... holding your son and trying to tell him why he wants to live, that's tough. But he was so strong," said Heather Merchant, Adam's mom.
"That it's hard," Adam said.
After 6 months of painful treatments his cancer went into remission and he was ready for another big moment in his life. The Make-A-Wish foundation flew him and his family to New York. He thought he was going to attend a Giants game, but it turned out to be much more.
"All the people I looked up to were surrounding me," Adam said.
This superfan got to meet the players and even attend a pregame practice.
"I got a little emotional in the huddle and outside," he said.
It was in that huddle that Adam delivered a message to the team.
"They sprung it on me I was going to do the huddle. I didn't have much time to think about it, but I knew right away what I should say," he said. "Play like world champs."
A simple message to play like world champs that the team took to heart from a kid who showed them true courage and strength.
"I will never look at those players the same again," Heather said. "They're not players on a field now; I'll just remember how they treated my son and made him feel so welcome."
"The wish happening is making me feel like everything is back on track, everything is better and now I can just continue on with life," Adam said.
Adam is an offensive and defensive lineman. He had to stop playing football after his cancer diagnosis. He is now cleared to play next year.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont grants 38 wishes a year on average; last year was a record with 58. The New York Giants told us they have many Make-A-Wish kids come through the stadium, but Adam had the biggest impact they've ever seen.
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