Braiden Brown’s dream to see Patriots comes true
Cherryville Elementary student Braiden Brown (wearing the #12 red jersey front and center) with his family and his schoolmates and Principal Shawn Hubers, last week (Oct. 8). The students hold up their “We Love You Braiden” signs. (photos by MEP/The Eagle)
by MICHAEL E. POWELL
Braiden Brown had a dream. It was a simple one, but it was a big dream nonetheless. And, it was his special dream, one many young boys who love sports have – to see their favorite sports team up close and personal, playing a game in real-time!
Braiden wanted to see his beloved New England Patriots football team play, and maybe – if he was lucky – get to meet some of the team’s players and coaches.
Last week, young Braiden witnessed that dream come true as he and his sister and their family stood transfixed on the front lawn of Cherryville Elementary School as his classmates, the school’s staff and teachers, along with many guests and Gaston County Schools staff and other dignitaries all stood and applauded for him and cheered him in the realization of that dream.
Braiden was injured, according to Cherryville Elementary Principal Shawn Hubers, in a lawnmower accident last Spring which caused the amputation of most of the fingers of both hands. There was also some injury to his leg as well.
Third-grader Braiden, 8, was selected to be a recipient of a Dream Experience by Dream On 3, a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization specializing in making sports dreams come true for kids with life-altering conditions.
A pep rally-like assembly was held at Cherryville Elementary on Tuesday, Oct. 8, for Braiden, and all associated with it made it a well-kept secret.
Gaston County Schools Superintendent Dr. W. Jeffrey Booker welcomed the kids, Braiden and his family, and everyone on behalf of Gaston County Schools by asking the kids if they knew what a celebration was.
“It’s a party!” said Dr. Booker, as the elementary students cheered loudly.
He complemented them on their hard work and their being one of the top elementary schools in the county.
Then he turned it over to Mike Dascal and Lindsey Bushnell who in turn introduced the star of the show, Braiden Brown.
Braiden received a Patriots jersey and other items he took with him on his trip, then he posed with his family and his fellow students, as well as his second-grade teacher, Ms. Emily Harris, whose hard work kept Braiden from falling behind in his studies.
Braiden’s aunt, Leslie Hoffman, spoke for the family Tuesday at the school and thanked everyone associated for the prayers, kindness, and outpouring of love for her nephew.
“You kids are amazing!” she said. “You are all amazing and our family wants to say thank you!”
According to Dream on 3’s Liz Graham, after the assembly Braiden, his little sister, Addyson, 6; his dad, Justin Brown; and his grandmother Martha Brown, were scheduled to attend the Thursday, Oct. 10, Patriots versus the New York Giants game at Gillette Stadium. Also attending with them will be Dream Leader Mike Dascal, a Dream On 3 volunteer; photographer Bruce Williams, of BAW Photography, and videographer Brooks Quinn, of Wheelhouse Media.
It’s obvious that Braiden loves football and when he talks about the six-time Super Bowl champs Patriots, or hears anyone talk about them, for that matter, his eyes light up.
Thanks to funds collected by the Burn Boot Camps in the area and Dream On 3, Braiden and his family will receive three full days of what Graham calls, “VIP treatment, which will include three nights in an exclusive hotel, VIP transportation, dining, and additional activities” while they are there.
Principal Hubers, who helped emcee the assembly, said of the event for Braiden, “I think the event went great. It was a great celebration for a very special young man.”
Hubers noted Braiden has been a student at Cherryville Elementary since he started in kindergarten.
Shawn said that Braiden did know that his dream was going to come true but added, “He didn’t know when it was going to happen, or how it was going to happen. I didn’t speak to him after the celebration other than telling him to have a great trip.”
For Hubers this was their first Dream On 3 ceremony and he said he thought it “was fantastic!”
Hubers continued, “This was just a special day at Cherryville Elementary. I believe Cherryville Elementary is a special place, and I feel so blessed to be the Principal of such a wonderful school with outstanding staff members and students. The Cherryville community supports our school and our students.
“Braiden exemplifies our school motto, ‘Make it Better’ in how he responded to this horrible accident, and we are grateful to have him at Cherryville Elementary!”
In addition to wanting to see his favorite NFL team play, Braiden told the DO3 folks (in an essay he sent their web site) that he wants to “grow up and be a police officer, so he can help protect people and keep them safe.”
After all of the celebrating, the Browns were escorted to the long black “limo” that took them to Charlotte-Douglas Airport, and the plane they would take to Boston.