Young Soccer Fan With Sickle Cell Anemia Goes to World Cup, Thanks to Make-a-Wish

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A 13-year-old diehard soccer fan who suffers from sickle cell anemia is about to realize one of his biggest dreams as he and his family travel from Brooklyn to Brazil to watch the World Cup. Sheldon Dutes reports. (Published Friday, Jun 20, 2014)

    A 13-year-old diehard soccer fan who suffers from sickle cell anemia is about to realize one of his biggest dreams as he and his family travel from Brooklyn to Brazil to watch the World Cup. 

    A loyal fan of Brazil's soccer team, Keirol will now get to watch the World Cup in his favorite team's backyard, thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses.

    Keirol, of Flatbush, has already collected more than a dozen trophies while playing for competitive travel teams. For the past few weeks, he's been excitedly packing his suitcases and preparing for his trip to Brazil. 

    "Since I'm going to the World Cup, I feel lucky," he said. "No one else can really do this." 

    "We get to go to two FIFA fan fests -- they're usually on the beach. I have two games," he said.

    Keirol was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia when he was a baby, and spent most of his childhood in and out of the hospital. He experienced periodic swelling of the hands and feet, and he'd spend a month at a time in the hospital on antibiotics.

    Keirol's mother Carol says the trip "means the world" to her.

    "It's like a dream come true," she said. "After being there so many times up and down with my son's sickness, it's just like a sign of relief." 

    Keirol feels better these days, thanks to a bone-marrow transplant from his younger brother. And now their family will be able to relax with an all-expenses paid trip to the World Cup.

    "I have a nice feeling I'm going to be a pro, but if it turns out bad, this is all I have," he said. 

    "I just want to say thank you because I don't know if anything like this will ever happen again," he said of the Make-a-Wish Foundation's gift. 

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