The NFL Draft was all about making dreams come true for college football players who are now embarking on a new football journey.
It was also a dream come for a young Steelers fan.
Zachary Hatfield is a typical 15-year old. He loves football and he holds his favorite team, the Steelers, close to his heart. But for him, this past year has been far from typical.
Hatfield’s life turned upside when he suffered a heart attack, something virtually unheard of for a kid his age. He underwent tests and in the process was diagnosed with leukemia last fall.
As if things weren’t tough enough on the family, in December they suffered another blow when they lost their home in Belfry, Kentucky to a fire. They were forced to relocate to Cincinnati while Hatfield undergoes treatment.
But this past week, Hatfield got to enjoy being a kid thanks to the NFL, Steelers and Make-A-Wish Foundation. Hatfield’s wish to attend the NFL Draft and announce the Steelers number one draft pick was granted. So when the moment came, he headed to the podium, decked out in a Steelers jersey, with Commissioner Roger Goodell and announced
“I wanted to do something original,” said Hatfield. “I never heard of anything like that. I just thought going to the draft and announcing the Steelers pick would be fun. At first I was kind of nervous. Once I got up there it was really exciting and a lot of fun.”
And he handled it like a pro.
“He seemed really excited to do it and he did a great job,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II. “I am glad it worked out the way it did and hopefully get to meet him one day.”
Hatfield, who lists Terry Bradshaw, Joe Greene and Jack Lambert as his favorite former Steelers and
“I liked them because of their tradition and the way they run their organization,” said Hatfield.
Hatfield and his family got to spend three days in New York, seeing the city and attending the NFL Play 60 Youth Football Festival in Central Park.
For Hatfield, it was the perfect escape from the tough reality he has had to face of late.
“At times it was very hard,” said Hatfield of the past year. “You have to set your mind to knowing you can get through this. If you set your mind to something, you can do it.
“This experience has been awesome. It took my mind off of everything. It was really awesome.”