Gaven Toney was in disbelief when he answered the phone and heard the voice on the other line.
“This is Chip Kelly calling from the Philadelphia Eagles,” the voice said.
“Seriously?” the 12-year-old Chester County boy asked.
“You got it buddy,” the voice replied.
Gaven wasn’t dreaming. He was really talking to Chip Kelly and the Eagles head coach had a special message for him.
“I heard a great story about you and what a great defensive tackle you are,” Kelly said. “I was just so impressed with everything I saw. I was calling to see if we could invite you to come down to our game against the Bills this Sunday.”
“Yeah,” Gaven replied. “I would like that.”
Kelly, like many people, was touched when he first saw Gaven’s story on NBC10 last month. The 7th grade Stetson Middle School student was born without arms and legs. Yet that didn’t stop him from playing for the school’s football team. Gaven told NBC10 he was inspired by the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I watched the Eagles and DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews,” he said. “I want to come out and see if I can put in the work and I tried to see what happens.”
Little did Gaven know, he inspired the Eagles as well which is why Kelly and the team personally invited him to join them on the sidelines during their game against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.
“I showed the whole team your video last night,” Kelly told Gaven during the game. “They were fired up. I couldn’t wait to meet you.”
One by one Gaven’s favorite Eagles players greeted him.
“Keep balling,” said Jordan Matthews as he signed a football for Gaven. “You inspire us.”
The inspiration the boy provided for the team was evident in their performance. The Eagles defeated the Bills 23 to 20. Yet the amazing moments for Gaven continued even after the final whistle. After Eagles rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor scored his first career touchdown, one person was on his mind.
“This young man right here would probably appreciate this football more than I did,” Agholor said. “I took it out my luggage and I gave it to him. The night before we watched the video, we just watched him talking and watched the confidence he spoke with. That’s real. That’s just as real as it gets.”
Gaven left a similar impression on DeMarco Murray as well.
“It puts things into perspective,” Murray said. “Obviously there’s a lot of chaos around you sometimes doing what we do. When we meet guys like him all of that kind of splurges away at the moment and you’re not thinking about anything but having fun with him and at the end of the day getting to know him.”
That’s exactly what Murray did when he took Gaven on a shopping spree and bought him a jersey. It was a life changing experience for the boy who has already conquered so much at a young age. But as the impact he had on them proved, Gaven changed the lives of the Eagles just as much as they changed his.