When Make-A-Wish Northeast New York wish kid Cole went to Dick’s Sporting Goods at Crossgates Mall with his family, it was supposed to be a trip just to get soccer shoes for his brother, Dillon.
A memorabilia display in the footwear section featuring Cole’s favorite team, the Liverpool Football Club, caught his eye. Cole was even wearing a team jersey that night.
Assistant store manager Jon Brochu told Cole he had something that might also interest him in the back. He soon emerged with wish granters Deb Benziger and Michelle Arsenault, who told the shocked 18-year-old from Castleton that not only was the entire display for him and his family, but that his wish to go to a Liverpool game at its historic home pitch Anfield in England is being granted.
At the time of his wish reveal Liverpool was well ahead in the Premier League standings, but Cole is no bandwagon jumper: The University at Albany freshman has been a fan of the Reds for about five years. (He even knows the chants and songs.) Cole and his brother saw the team play earlier this year at Yankee Stadium.
“The atmosphere was crazy,” said Cole, who is battling cystic fibrosis. “I can’t imagine actual English supporters.”
What makes Cole’s wish experience even more special was the January Liverpool game the family attended was against Manchester United – Dillon’s favorite team. The 14-year-old brother got a Man U jersey, like the other gear courtesy of Dick’s. (Sister McKenzie, 10, called dibs on a favored scarf, which made store manager Mike Tesoriero smile.)
“I will stay true,” the brother said, noting he will not change his rooting allegiance for his brother.
He did not wear the jersey in hostile territory. That was dad’s (wise) call.
The game was played on a perfect January day and started beneath a gorgeous sunset. Liverpool dominated much of the match, and beat its rival 2-0 to stay undefeated on the season. And, as Cole predicted, wish dad Paul called the atmosphere "amazing."
At the wish reveal the family was overwhelmed that a dream trip would become a reality.
“The past week I’ve had a tough time sleeping trying to keep it a secret,” wish mom Tara said. “It’s a trip of a lifetime. It will be really cool – really cool.”
The smile never left Cole’s face.
“This experience has been breathtaking,” Cole said. “Their determination to grant this wish has been awe-inspiring.”