LA GRANGE PARK – After meeting a representative with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2011 and being granted his wish in 2012, a 13-year-old La Grange Park resident recently became a Make-A-Wish ambassador for an upcoming event in May.
For his wish, Max Knipstein asked to be an honorary team captain with the Chicago Bears – an experience he described as one of the best days of his life.
As an honorary captain – in September of 2012 – Knipstein went down to Solider Field to see the team practice the Friday before a game, met a few players, chatted with former coach Lovie Smith and had lunch with the team.
That following Sunday, Knipstein headed back to the football stadium to watch the pre-game, stood in front of the Chicago Bears during the National Anthem before the regular game and went to do the coin toss with the captain.
“The whole time I was just living in the moment and didn’t really know what to think,” Knipstein said.
Julie Knipstein, Max’s mom, said they’re very thankful for everything the foundation has done for him.
“Max talks about it all the time,” Julie Knipstein said. “Anytime he thinks about it, it will lift him right up.”
Knipstein was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis – a life-threatening disease that affects the lungs and digestive system – at just 4 months old.
The disease makes it harder for him to breathe than the average person, according to Julie, who added s that Max does two treatments a day which include a vibrate vest, inhaled medication, supplement vitamins and other medications.
The call to be an ambassador for the 2014 Make-A-Wish Wish Ball came at the end of March.
As an ambassador at Saturday’s event, the seventh-grader will be playing Bear Down with the Chicago Bears’ drumline and will later present the team with a recognition award from the foundation. Knipstein said he’s most excited about giving the team the award.
“It’s going to be an incredible, unreal experience,” Knipstein said. “It’s just going to be super cool.”
The foundation’s black tie gala event – with guest speaker, comedian Seth Meyers – will also honor other Chicago sports teams and their work with Make-A-Wish. The night will include cocktails, dinner and a raffle along with live and silent auctions. Guests will also be able to dance and enjoy live music on Soldier Field’s 50 yard line.
Looking ahead, Max will always have a good connection with the foundation and hopes to stay involved, he said. The journey has meant a lot to him.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Knipstein said. “It was an unbelievable experience, [and] the whole thing that Make-A-Wish has done for me has been a great experience.”
IF YOU GO:
What: Make-A-Wish Wish Ball 2014
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, May 3
Where: Soldier Field, 1410 Museum Campus Drive
Tickets: $600 per person, $6,000 per table or $12,000 per premium table
For more information on Saturday’s event, visit www.illinois.wish.org or call 312-602-WISH