The Christmas wish of an 8-year-old Bethel girl battling leukemia a second time was granted when she met with Tom Brady Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, according to a story posted on ESPN’s website.
Hailey Steward was diagnosed at the age of 5 with B cell leukemia, according to media reports. She has been at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment off and on since a relapse in October.
Hailey’s hospital room is decorated with pictures of the New England Patriots’ quarterback and blankets sporting his jersey number, 12.
Her parents, John and Tabaitha Steward, have chronicled her battle on a Facebook page titled, Hailey’s Journey, Our Journey. In an interview posted on the page, the told a Portland television station that all she wanted for Christmas was to get out of the hospital for the holiday weekend and to meet Tom Brady.
Brady learned of her wish and sent her a video message Christmas Day inviting her to come down on Saturday to the stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, according to Facebook posts.
“I was hoping you’d be willing to come down here this Saturday before we leave for New York and I’d get a chance to meet you,” Brady said. “So maybe you can ask your Mom and Dad if that’s what you want for Christmas.”
The Patriots were set to play the New York Jets Sunday afternoon at the Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Hailey Steward and her mother on Sunday morning posted a video on the Facebook page thanking their friends and Brady. Both wore Patriots jerseys with Brady’s number on them. Hailey also wore a winter Patriots hat.
“She already misses you and hopes yesterday is no the last time she gets to see you,” Tabaitha Steward said. “Today we are going to watch Tom Brady and the New England Patriots kick some New York Jets’ butts.”
On Saturday, Hailey Steward’s dad posted an emotional post about what the visit with Brady meant to him.
“As a dad, this was truly one of the most amazing days of my life to see my girl get her wish,” he said. “My little Hailey is so strong and to see someone like Tom Brady recognize her strength and determination to beat this again is awesome. I want to thank everyone out there that helped make this happen and I mean everyone who shared, posted, tagged or whatever it took.
“I can also say Tom Brady is an amazing man and to reach out to us and meet us today was way more than we expected. He is a true Patriot and all Patriot fans should be proud,” he wrote. “I know I will forever be.”
Hailey’s mother told the Portland Press Herald last week the girl has a 70 percent chance of being cancer-free once treatment is completed. That treatment is either chemotherapy and radiation treatments for two and a half years or shorter more intense treatment that includes a bone marrow transplant.