For Edward ‘Dean’ Rodgers this was a trip he always dreamt about, coming to Pittsburgh to see the Steelers play.
Rodgers, a 17-year old from Wilmington, Delaware, has Stage IV chronic kidney disease, and was a recipient of a kidney transplant in May. Thanks to the Steelers and Make-A-Wish his dream of visiting Pittsburgh and going to a game is happening this weekend.
“This is surreal,” said Rodgers. “I see JuJu (Smith-Schuster) right there, all the players. This is just crazy. I have been thinking about this for a while, but now it just hit me. It’s crazy.”
The Steelers grant a wish of a young fan from Wilmington, DE
But things were supposed to be a little different. Rodgers had hoped one day to make the trip with his father, but he passed away several years ago, before it could become a reality. He still wanted to make the trip though and check off something he and his father had on their bucket list. Rodgers even brought a picture of his dad, from when he visited Steelers training camp, with him for the players to sign so he could frame it and hang in his room.
“I have always loved the Steelers,” said Rodgers. “This was for my dad. He always wanted to bring me here. I thought there must be something special and I always wanted to see it. I know if he was alive, he would want to be right here with me.
“He was always saying it’s a great city, great people. This is only my second day here and I love it already.”
Rodgers watched the Steelers practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Friday where he got to meet players and coaches, including James Conner and Ryan Shazier, two players he looks up to because of the battles they have overcome and the impact they have had on the team and the community.
And on Sunday he will watch the Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.
“I am excited. I can’t wait,” said Rodgers. “I am proud of my boys. They are going to do something.”