Sports have a way of bringing people together. Kellirae Cox, who was a massive Eagles fan, understood this well. She was deaf and diagnosed with late-stage melanoma and an unknown syndrome. As a result, the 21-year-old had a bucket list — at the top of it was seeing a Super Bowl game in person.
So, with the help of her aunt, Suzanne McDonald, and the Dream Foundation, she was able to secure tickets! Although the Eagles lost, Kellirae had the time of her life — and part of the reason why is because of a chance encounter.
During the game, Kellirae caught the attention of a man named Rick Santiago. He was sat in a row in front of her, and the two of them became fast friends, taking photos together.
“I had a great time at the game with KelliRae,” Rick wrote. “I didn’t know her prior to that moment but we shared a good night filled with laughs and excitement. I chose to engage KelliRae because she was above the seats and you could tell, like us all, she wanted to partake in the up and down reactions a game provides us.”
Chance Super Bowl Encounter Leaves a Lasting Impact
Although they had a blast, the excitement of the game made them forget to exchange names and numbers. Then, months passed. And in August, three days before KelliRae’s birthday, she passed away.
As a result, Kellirae’s family and loved ones were devastated. In the months that followed, they came up with an idea on how they could honor her: By flying to Philly to attend the Eagles-San Francisco game.
But to make this day as special as possible, they wanted to try and find Rick. Without even having a first name to identify him, Suzanne took to a Philadelphia Eagles Fan Group in hopes someone would recognize the man in the photos.
A Miracle Second Encounter
Seven minutes. It took seven minutes for Rick’s phone to start blowing up with friends letting him know that someone was in search of him on Facebook.
“Making dinner and phone starts blowing up from friends from all different places,” Rick wrote. “I come to find that I was ‘going viral’ over something that happened at the Super Bowl.”
Once they connected, Rick was happy to join KelliRae’s family for dinner after the game, becoming fast friends themselves. Plus, the late woman’s family was able to gift him a drink coaster that has an inside joke between the two of them.
“Until this weekend, I felt like I lost the best part of me,” Suzanne said. “I really didn’t know how I was gonna go on. This was just what the doctor ordered.”
Although folks are praising Rick for his kindness, he insists this chance Super Bowl encounter isn’t about him.
“A SIMPLE ACT OF KINDNESS made this situation what it is today,” Rick wrote. “ALL OF US have that power to make an impact on others. You don’t need money. You don’t need fame. You don’t need any material thing to make this type of impact on another person. You simply have the power in you already.”
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