25-year-old Mark Melchiore from Philadelphia, PA shared a final smile with Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and FOX Sports lead NFL game analyst, Troy Aikman, a man Mark had long admired.
After Mark had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma and given a life expectancy of just one month, Mark’s family reached out to Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults. Mark’s final Dream was to meet Troy Aikman.
Mark and his sister, Amanda, grew up Dallas Cowboys fans thanks to their grandmother and father’s undying love for the team. Amanda says that their father was a super fan and loved Troy Aikman the most, following his career from the very beginning. He never missed an opportunity to educate his children about the sport he loved so dearly and the athletes who played it brilliantly. Mark started playing football at just 5-years-old, loved it immediately, and continued to play through high school.
When Mark learned that he was facing the end of his life, he only had one Dream, to meet Troy Aikman and connect with a player he never had an opportunity to see play in person.
With little time left, Dream Foundation called its Ambassador of Sports, five-time NBA All-Star and NASCAR team owner, Brad Daugherty, to reach out to his friend, Troy.
Troy was honored and delighted to speak with Mark and Amanda. The pandemic made an in-person meeting difficult, so the three connected via Zoom. Troy was compassionate, attentive, funny and kind. Mark, unable to speak or move much, expressed happiness and joy. Mark mustered every bit of energy he had left to give Troy a thumbs up, show him his Cowboys hat, and even smile.
Just three days after this Dream come true, Mark died. Amanda wrote to Dream Foundation, “I just wanted to thank you guys again so much for what you did. Mark passed away. He [Troy] gave Mark his last excitement. It was the first time I’ve seen him smile in a while, and the last.”
About Dream Foundation:
Dream Foundation, the only national dream-granting organization for terminally-ill adults, fulfills final Dreams that provide inspiration, comfort and closure at the end of life. With the support of a nationwide network of volunteers, hospices, health care organizations and committed donors, Dream Foundation has given life to more than 32,000 final Dreams since being founded in 1994. Dream Foundation receives no state or federal funding – we rely solely on private donations. To support our mission, please visit DreamFoundation.org/donate.