Kellan Meinke is a young boy with a rare illness and a love of the Green Bay Packers.
One of those helped him forget—at least for a couple of days—about the other.
On Tuesday, Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin told the story of the weekend Kellan and his family spent with the Packers. The visit took place the weekend of Nov. 8-9, capping the stay off with Green Bay’s 55-14 win over the Chicago Bears.
Kellan has been watching Packer highlights since he was 18 months old and in the hospital, where he has spent most of his life because of a condition so rare it doesn’t even have a name. Kellan’s stomach and intestinal tract don’t work, meaning he can’t absorb nutrients into his system and processing even the smallest amounts of food or drink is excruciatingly painful. As a result, Kellan is fed through an intravenous line that feeds nutrients directly into a large vein near his heart.
He spent two days—Saturday’s practice and game day Sunday—with the team, with highlights including a conversation about dinosaurs with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien gave up his locker. Offensive linemen T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton worked on fumble recoveries with him.
Linebacker Clay Matthews, who was planning on heading straight home following Saturday's practice, also spent time with the family.
“I had planned on going home right after practice. As with every day, I try to get out of here and go about normal life – my life, outside of football,” Matthews says. “But I ended up sitting down, and they were such a great family. They were having a dance-off, and they were telling me about having their tonsils removed, and who’s got a pink bike and who’s got a green bike, and Kellan’s surgery, what he’s allowed to eat … They were just the cutest girls and Kellan was … It was great to be a part of it. It brings you back to reality.
“I went home and honestly, I thought about Kellan and his sisters. They were awesome. I don’t know what they got out of it, but I got a lot out of it. That’s a family that I’ll truly remember.”
The visit was arranged through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.