His wish was to meet Matt Ryan.
“I’m a fan of quarterbacks,” said Alex, a Falcons fan that spends football season tracking every aspect of the NFL. “And (Matt’s) a good player.”
The Van Ettens will stay in Atlanta for Saturday’s preseason game against the Chargers and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium Sunday morning. Alex, along with his older brother, mother and father, will watch pregame warmups from the sideline and move up to Dimitroff’s suite for the game.
Beth Van Etten said her son loves football season and was overjoyed when he got the news he’d meet his favorite player and other Falcons.
“We’re all huge football fans,” she said. “This is all he wanted, to meet these guys… He loves this team and has supported them through some down years.”
Alex was greeted in The Branch by a host of Falcons cheerleaders Friday morning. He went on to breakfast with some Falcons coaches and players. He moved on to practice, chatting with Dimitroff and other Falcons employees and watching as the team made last-minute adjustments for the Chargers.
He then “broke down” the huddle, leading the team off the field.
“If I’m able to help in any way, shape or form I’m excited to do it,” Ryan said when asked about his involvement with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Alex said he was attracted to the players’ humble nature and “down-to-earth” personalities.
Though they have season tickets, neither Alex or his brother, Sean, are Carolina fans.
Alex wears his Falcons jersey and, according to his mother, “takes the abuse.” Regardless, Ryan and the Birds have a few more friendly faces in the stands when they make the trip up I-85.
“I like everything about the game, but I’m not a Panthers fan,” Alex says.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has chapters around the country. According to Shavette Neal, the Georgia-Alabama chapter grants more than 400 wishes each year. Nationwide, a wish is granted about every 40 minutes.
BLOGGER’S NOTE: Look for more on Alex’s visit to The Branch, including video, on Monday on AtlantaFalcons.com.