After trying out to be a cheerleader, Kyleigh "Ky" Dean thought how cool it would be to actually be a football player. So she started to play when she was in the first grade.
Thru the Make a Wish Foundation, on Thursday morning, she got to hit the practice field with her favorite NFL team, the Carolina Panthers. She spent most of practice with the defense fine tuning her skills at her favorite position... middle linebacker and hanging with one of her favorite players, Thomas Davis.
"I've always liked defense and he's like the defense master in my opinion," said Ky.
"She's made a decision to ultimately be different than some of the other girls her age," said Davis. "It's awesome."
Football is a very tough sport, but life has been tough for Ky.
At a young age, she was diagnosed with congenital generalized lipodystrophy. GCL is a rare condition that causes extensive heart, liver, and kidney damage and affects 1 in 10 million people worldwide.
Because of her condition, she travels to Bethesda every few weeks for treatments. Those stays normally last a week to keep the condition under control.
On a daily basis, she takes 3 shots of insulin, has to check her blood sugar 3 to 4 times, and has to eat extra food to keep her blood glucose at the right levels.
Back in March, Ky was in ICU and had to be put on a ventilator and almost died due to the disease.
"When you think about getting to interact and getting to hang with Kyleigh and some of her life experiences and understanding some of her struggles she's had to face as a young kid, you definitely want to make sure that it's a special day," said Davis. "That's what we tried to do for her today."
Football is a great get away for Ky, but she also loves to wrestle. She is a 2 time All-American wrestler and won a gold medal at the 2017 National Championships. She started wrestling in elementary school after being bullied.
So she is one tough young lady and now is becoming a great trash talker after spending just a few hours with the Panthers defense.
"We talked trash to Cam all practice long," said Davis. "He came up and he tried to speak to her and she stuck to it. She asked him a question. 'Why you so salty?' I absolutely loved that. That made my day."
The Conway, SC native also loves the Clemson Tigers and now as she head back home, she has a new story to tell to all her friends and a message to deliver.
"The Carolina Panthers at really awesome and they should all like them."
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