FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – “It’s a blessing to be able to use our voice and impact other people’s lives who have been through much more than most of us can imagine.” Those were the words used by Nova Southeastern baseball player Kyle Kilbourne to describe yet another inspiring moment on the campus of Nova Southeastern this past Sunday. In partnership with Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, the NSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) teamed up in granting a wish for a local teenager in a heartfelt event that left the 18-year old with an inspiring smile.
Fendi-Belltooci Mateo Louis, from nearby Miramar, Fla., has long battled Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a rare congenital defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. However, this past weekend she was able to ease her mind and live like a superstar…literally. Fendi has forever had a love for travel and Hollywood glamour, naming her favorite celebrities as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, and has long dreamed of becoming famous in none other than New York City. Fortunately, she now won’t have to wait any longer.
In an afternoon full of surprises, Fendi began the memorable day with a welcomed No. 34 jersey before signing on as a honorary member of the Nova Southeastern women’s soccer team. She then toured the campus and experienced a day-in-the-life as a Sharks player. The excitement was only beginning, though, as she later made a red-carpet entrance to the University Center, where she was greeted by an array of student-athletes along with NSU mascot, Razor. After being cheered inside, a fun-loving press conference was held in which Fendi discussed her future dreams upon being gifted a life-size ticket for a family trip this summer to New York City.
“Being able to grant a wish for Fendi was a truly humbling experience,” beamed SAAC Co-President Ashlyn Hill. “As an organization, we were honored to have been granted this privilege of presenting her with the trip to NYC. We were happy to have had an entire day honoring Fendi and Make-A-Wish, and I am so proud of SAAC for making it all happen.”
“Rallying around a cause and working hard all year was rewarded Sunday when we got to grant Fendi her dream wish,” echoed Kilbourne, also a co-president of SAAC. “I hope she has safe and extremely fun travels, and I truly hope she gets to feel famous for a day. Wish reveals are such an inspiration and motivation for everything we do here at NSU and SAAC specifically, and we hope that we can set a precedent of regularly granting more and more wishes.”
This is the second straight year NSU has had the privilege of hosting a wish reveal. During the 2016-17 academic year, the NSU SAAC raised a grand total of $22,050.00 for Make-A-Wish’s Southern Florida chapter, the second-highest amount in all of Division II.
For a look back at the special day, a full photo gallery is available here.