An Orange Bowl Wish Come True
By Carlos Pineda
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Diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) at the age of five, A.J. Scott's dream was to see his Seminoles play in the Orange Bowl.
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Ten-year-old A.J. Scott can't play football.
But he loves to watch it.
Diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) at the age of five, A.J. has been going to Florida State football games with his dad, Jerel Scott, for the last four years. Jerel, an FSU fan since the late 80s, and A.J. make the near five-hour drive from Statesboro, Ga. to Tallahassee two to three times a year to cheer on the Seminoles.
"He fell in love with Florida State," Jerel said. "It just makes him happy."
DMD is caused by the absence of dystrophin — a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact. The disease primarily affects boys between the ages of three and six, affecting approximately one in 3,500 male births, according to WebMD.
As the disease progresses, muscle weakness and atrophy affect the the trunk and forearms, gradually involving additional muscles of the body. According to MedlinePlus, there in no known cure for DMD. Most affected individuals require a wheelchair.
A.J.'s been in a wheelchair for about a year.
"It is [hard], but we just take it day-by-day with the good Lord helping us and our belief and our faith in Christ that we'll make it," Jerel said.
The Scott family contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation last year and were put on the waiting list. They eventually received a call after Christmas and arrived in South Florida on Sunday.
A.J. met with the team at the team hotel on Monday and was at Sun Life Stadium on Tuesday to greet the players as they arrived for the game against Northern Illinois.
"It means the world to him," his mom, Pam Scott, said. "He's so excited to be here. He met all the players and coaches and it's been wonderful. They've been big teddy bears. They've been good to him."
A.J. and his family watched the Orange Bowl from a suite and were on the field during FSU's trophy ceremony. As the players stepped off the stage, many stopped by where A.J. was sitting, greeting him before they headed back to the locker room. Offensive lineman Cameron Erving took off his new championship hat and gently placed it on A.J.'s head.
A choked up Pam looked on as the players and head coach Jimbo Fisher showered A.J. with affection.
"It's hard to describe," Pam said. "You just want so much for him. He loves to watch those boys out on the field playing."
A.J.'s favorite player, Chris Thompson, spent some time with him on the field, before A.J. posed for a picture with Obie — the Orange Bowl mascot — and the Orange Bowl trophy.
FSU's 31-10 win was a great end for the Scott family in South Florida.
"Just to see him smile and see him get this attention from Florida State and from the Orange Bowl," Jerel said, "it's been a dream week."