Matt Cahill couldn't hide his smile as he took his place on the sideline of the practice fields at Alltel Stadium on Tuesday evening. Cahill, dressed from head to toe in full Jaguars gear, including a replica helmet, was a special guest at the club's practice and received the royal treatment under the lights throughout the evening.
Cahill, seven years old, was chosen by the Jaguars through the Dreams Come True organization to visit practice and tour the lockerroom and weight room. But most importantly, he got the chance to meet his favorite Jaguars.
Cahill is battling histiocytosis, a life-threatening illness that causes lesions in the bones. The disease is treated similar to cancer with chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplant possibly looms in the future.
Dreams Come True is a non-profit organization with the simple goal of making the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses become reality. The organization has fulfilled more than 1,800 dreams in the past 22 years for children battling life-threatening illnesses in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.
The Jaguars went through a typical two-hour practice and Cahill stood on the sideline, absorbing every pass and every block. It was something he always wanted to do.
"He just got back last week from Boston, meeting Curt Schilling of the Red Sox," said his father, Matt. "He is a big Jaguars fan. He was excited to have the chance to meet his favorite Jaguar and former Florida Gator, Fred Taylor."
The dream came true for Cahill immediately following practice when Taylor stopped by with a special gift – one of his authentic jerseys which Fred personally autographed for Matt. Taylor also gave the Jacksonville resident his sweatbands and gloves before leaving with advice to 'stay strong in your battle.' Head coach Jack Del Rio visited with Matt, as did several other players including Mike Peterson, Marcus Stroud, John Henderson, Byron Leftwich and Matt Jones.
Peterson invited Cahill into the lockerroom following practice, where Matt had the chance to spend time with Matt Jones, Reggie Williams and several other players. Peterson signed a pair of gloves for Cahill as he left.
When the night concluded, the only words Matt could muster were, "thanks."