On Monday, October 7, the Los Angeles Rams and Make-A-Wish® Tri-Counties hosted their second annual 'LA Rams Night for Wishes' charity event to raise funds to fulfill the wishes of local children battling life-threatening medical conditions. Rams 4-time Pro Bowl Tackle and Captain ANDREW WHITWORTH co-hosted the event alongside philanthropist and event emcee Andrew Firestone.
"When the Rams came back to Los Angeles, they wanted to put 'Rams Night for Wishes' back into motion and asked us (Make-A-Wish Tri Counties) if we would be willing to do that and we said, 'Of course, we'd love to,'" said Pattie Mullins, Make-A-Wish Tri Counties CEO. "Everyone in Southern California is thrilled to have the Rams back and they are such a giving organization. We're just really honored to have been selected to partner with the Rams. It makes a big difference."
During the event, guests had the opportunity to meet some of their favorite Rams players such as WHITWORTH, ROBERT WOODS, BLAKE BORTLES, GREG ZUERLIEN, JOHNNY HEKKER, AUSTIN BLYTHE, SEBASTIAN JOSEPH-DAY, JOE NOTEBOOM, JAKE McQUAIDE, JAMIL DEMBY and DAVID EDWARDS, along with cheerleaders, and team mascot, Rampage. The evening also featured a cocktail reception, 3-course dinner, silent and live auctions, as well as entertainment. Rams players even competed in a 'Players Challenge' to collect the most tips in the form of "Wish Bucks" from autographs and photos in support of Make-A-Wish Tri Counties and their mission to help make wishes come true for the children and families they serve.
"The Rams and Make-A-Wish partnered for this event to make a difference in this community and to try and help grant wishes for kids," said Whitworth. "I think it's an opportunity for us to make a huge difference in kids' lives and put a smile on faces, which to me, is one of the most rewarding things that you can ever be a part of."
The Rams grant wish of young boy battling life-threatening condition during second 'LA Rams Night for Wishes'
Six-year-old Santa Barbara County resident, Owen Miller, has been battling a rare form of kidney cancer. Over the past year, he's had two surgeries at UCLA hospital as well as numerous chemotherapy treatments. To grant a special wish for Owen, he and his family were invited to the 'Rams Night for Wishes' event and were recognized at the conclusion of the dinner and live auction program.
While Whitworth was on stage speaking to the attendees, he asked Owen to join him. As he and his dad, Jonathan, approached the stage, they were greeted by Whitworth and the applause of attendees. Owen sat down on a chair in the middle of the stage and was curious to know what was going to happen next.
"I was wondering, Owen, what's been something you have always wanted to do? What is your wish?" asked Whitworth.
"Well, I want to go Disney World," responded Owen.
"Really? You want the opportunity to go to Disney World? That would be pretty cool. You know what's cool about Disney World? Mickey Mouse, all the cool rides …Disney World is the best! I've loved it every time I've been there with my kids. I'll tell you what would be super cool… I have some other friends here that are going to come join me up here on the stage. Can I get the cheerleaders up here and some of my other friends, please?"
Owen looked around the crowd while the cheerleaders and Rampage made their way to the stage with a giant present wrapped in silver paper with a red ribbon that eventually set right in front of Owen, his face lit up with excitement and curiosity. With the help of Whitworth, Owen pulled the red ribbon and a Mickey Mouse balloon along with three red star balloons rose in front of him.
"You're going to Disney World dude!" exclaimed Whitworth.
Applause erupted in the audience while the Disney World theme song played, and Owen beamed with joy.
"Owen didn't know that he was going to have a wish granted tonight. We've been keeping it a secret," said Owen's mother, Lesley. "He went up on stage to find out that we are all going to Disney World and we are really excited. It's just been an amazing event and a magical evening. We are super grateful."
On Sunday, October 13, Owen will have his wish fully granted when his family heads to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
In addition, Whitworth announced that he'll be representing the Make-A-Wish organization during the upcoming My Cause, My Cleats campaign, a league-wide initiative to share the causes that are important to NFL players and opportunity to raise funds for those causes.
"I had the opportunity tonight at this event to choose to have Make-A-Wish on my cleats," said Whitworth. "I decided it would be a cool idea and a unique opportunity. It was a very welcomed response."
Make-A-Wish® Tri-Counties grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Each year, over 100 children are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and desperately need the positive experience that a wish provides. Founded in 1985, Make-A-Wish® Tri-Counties has granted the heartfelt wishes of more than 1,650 local children in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties along the central coast of California.