Jan. 16, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- American Family Children's Hospital patient Daniel Christian has always loved playing sports. Last May, however, the 9-year-old was sidelined when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
"It's been a tough year from him taking a break from the sports he loves playing," said his mother, Katy Christian.
In conjunction with the Wish Upon A Badger campaign, the Wisconsin men's soccer team invited Daniel for an adventure at the McClimon Complex that would make his break from playing a little easier to bear.
The team first invited the third-grader from Madison to practice, where he received a signed team jersey and soccer ball. The highlight of his experience occurred prior to the Badgers' game against Michigan State, when Daniel was introduced along with the starting lineups and served as an honorary captain for the Badgers.
"He's been welcomed with open arms by the different sports teams," Katy said. "It's great for him to be able to look forward to these types of events. It's great motivation for him."
UW Athletics began fulfilling the wish¬es of young Badgers fans facing serious illness several years ago with the "Wish Upon A Badger" program after being inspired by the Make-A-Wish campaign. In cooperation with the American Family Children's Hospital, children are given the opportunity to go behind the scenes with their favorite team, meet the players and coaches, tour the facilities and spend time at practice. A number of different sports have participated, including men's basketball, football, softball and women's tennis.
"It's a chance for us to create a series of special moments for a child and their family who are going through a difficult time," UW senior associate athletic director Justin Doherty said. "It's something that our athletes and coaches have really embraced."