GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) It’s the Christmas wish that almost didn’t come true for one 8-year-old boy hoping to meet his hero Aaron Rodgers Monday night as he signed autographs to raise money for The Salvation Army.
But little did he know, there was another hero who made the little boy’s wish come true this holiday season.
Two-hundred fans waited patiently Monday for an autograph from Rodgers, but 8-year-old Emmanuel Gonzales said he’s been waiting even longer to meet the famous quarterback.
“A long, long time,” said Emmanuel.
Emmanuel’s Christmas wish this year was to meet Rodgers and take a picture with him, so his parents packed their suitcases, hopped on a plane and flew all the way to Green Bay from New Jersey.
“The next day we had the tickets already,” said Melissa Sewer, Emmanuel’s mom.
Just like last year, Aaron Rodgers asked Packers fans to help him raise money for Salvation Army. For the first 200 fans in line, he would give them an autograph. He also asked that they make a donation of at least $100 dollars, pledging to match all of the money donated, up to $50,000. Last year he signed a check for $38,000.
Because it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis, people started lining up outside Lambeau Field around 8 p.m. Sunday night to make sure they were well-within the 200 person cutoff. But unfortunately, when Emmanuel and his family finally got in line, they were number 201.
“We were the cutoff,” said Melissa.
Although you could say Rodgers is Emmanuel’s hero, there was another hero standing right in front of him in line at Lambeau Field. The man’s name is Tom and he drove all the way from Eau Claire to have his helmet signed, but when he heard Emmanuel’s wish wouldn’t come true, he did something Melissa will never forget.
“He (Tom) drove 3.5 hours and he heard we were from New Jersey so he turned around and said, ‘I would rather give this to your son,’ and that is the best gift I could ever ask for,” said Melissa.
Thankful, excited and in awe of this man’s gift, the least they could do was give back to Tom, so Melissa offered to get his helmet signed by Aaron Rodgers. It already had autographs from Bart Starr and Brett Favre.
“We have to UPS it to him, but we don’t mind doing it,” said Melissa. “My son will remember this forever, so I can’t repay him for that.”
Once Emmanuel knew it was going to happen, he put his game face on and waited patiently, with the plan to ask Rodgers for a photo.
“If he says yes, I am going in,” said Emmanuel.
Of course, Rodgers said yes and took a picture with the entire family.
“Thanks buddy, nice to meet you guys,” said Rodgers.
“Thank you Aaron,” said Emmanuel.
Emmanuel played it cool in front of Rodgers, but he could only contain his excitement for so long.
“Yes! This is our dream, we did it,” said Emmanuel. “We finally did it. We took a picture.”