Thanks to the USC football team, McClain's wish to go play football with the red team came true. On his special day, McClain donned his own personalized jersey, ran patterns and tackled players who seemed like giants compared to him.
To 5-year-old McClain, football is everything. It’s more than a pastime; it is 100 percent pure fun – what being a kid is all about. McClain waits for his dad to get home from work so they can practice together, and when they watch a football game, McClain likes to cheer for the “red team.” When McClain’s wish granters asked him what he wished for more than anything else, no one was surprised by his reply. He wanted go play football for the red team, to yell “hike, hike, hike,” and throw the ball to a real football player.
On his wish day, McClain was whisked away to the USC Trojans spring game at the LA Coliseum, where he was invited to join the Trojans as an honorary team member. Equipped with his very own jersey bearing the name McClain in bold letters across the back, McClain ran plays on the field for more than an hour before the game, practiced tackling and yelled “hike, hike, hike” with his fellow “red team” players. During the game, McClain critiqued the game from the press box, sipped Gatorade from the team cooler on the sidelines, and met the USC Song Girls. At halftime, McClain climbed the ladder to conduct the Trojan Marching Band in the school’s fight song. To start the second half, McClain joined the team to run out of the tunnel, carried on the shoulders of USC’s team captains, Matt Barkley and TJ McDonald. When they reached the 50 yard line, Barkley taught McClain to stab the field with his sword, just like the drum major does.
The 20,000 people in the Coliseum roared with praise, touched by the bravery of this tiny football fan. At the end of the game, Coach Kiffin named him the game’s MVP and presented McClain with an autographed game ball, a souvenir he can grasp and remember that wishes really can come true.
McClain’s wish experience transported him and his parents to a world in which rare blood disorders and hospital visits don’t exist. Cheerful memories of this happy day will help them meet the challenges ahead with hope, strength and joy.