For These Deserving Fans, the Super Bowl Gets Crossed Off the Bucket List

Dreamer Stories | In the News | February 2, 2018


Three weeks before Wayne Baird planned to fly to Minneapolis to fulfill a lifelong dream, he was on his knees in the family room of his Newark, Del., home, about an hour south of Philadelphia, with his Eagles shirt on, surrounded by family members in matching jerseys. And he was praying.

It was January 13, nearly a year after Baird had been diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, and given two to four months to live. Baird started five rounds of chemotherapy last March, but the mantle cell kept coming back. Two days before he was set to receive a stem cell transplant from one his daughters— doctors told him the treatment might provide his best shot at a cure— the cancer showed up in his skin. So Wayne went back to chemotherapy. Then, right when he was set for another stem cell transplant, the cancer returned in his spinal fluid. That ended Wayne’s hopes for stem cell. Now it’s chemo every day, lumbar punctures into his spine every month, and the hopes of an experimental drug being efficacious. In November, his oncologist updated his life expectancy to four to six months.

But that’s not why Wayne was praying.

Wayne was praying because the Falcons had the ball on the Eagles’ 2-yard line with 1:05 to go in the divisional round playoffs, and Philadelphia was clinging to a five-point lead. As Matt Ryan lined up under center for the decisive snap, Wayne was on his knees, screaming at his TV— “I’m 62 years old, I got cancer, and I’ve never seen the Eagles in a Super Bowl. Don’t do this to me.” So yes, there was relief when the fourth-down pass sailed through Julio Jones’s hands in the corner of the end zone, securing the Eagles a berth in the NFC Championship Game.
Rocky was an underdog, Wayne is an underdog, and so too, Wayne notes, are his Eagles this year. In December, before the playoffs began, one of Wayne’s daughters reached out to the Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally ill adults, penning a letter. “He loves all things Philly,” the letter read. “My dad’s favorite thing about Philadelphia, though, is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are doing great this year, and it is my dad’s dream to watch them win the Super Bowl. To be there while it happened is something he could only fathom. I realize a lot of things have to happen in order for this to come true…”