CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - You might have recently seen a viral sensation with a 6-year-old doing one-armed pushups with the UNC-Charlotte football team.
Here’s what maybe you didn’t know:
That 6-year-old is named Noah Hall. He’s from China Grove in Rowan County. And he was with the UNCC team for hours that day – and met an NFL rookie who flew in from Pittsburgh just to see him – as they unveiled a big surprise.
We’ll get to that. First though, that viral video. It shows Noah showing up guys more than 3-times his age when in doing push-ups. They ask him to join them, and Noah drops to the ground and does them one-armed. After SportsCenter, House of Highlights and Bleacher Report picked up the clip from Dream On 3, Noah (and the UNC-Charlotte football team) ended up with many-millions of views.
It’s a great video that makes you smile – but if you know Noah’s background, you also know it’s plain remarkable.
Noah lives with Robinow Syndrome, a more complicated form of dwarfism. When Dream On 3 came to him to ask what sports dream he’d want them to make happen, he said he loved football, loved the Steelers, and wanted to meet some players.
Which leads us to the day his dream was revealed.
Former Carolina Panthers player Kevin Donnalley – now director of player development for the UNC-Charlotte 49ers football team – helped welcome Noah and his parents Stephanie and Jamie. They arrived in VIP style with a limo. (Sidenote: Noah couldn’t stand the excitement. He’s usually confined to a specific-type of car seat, so he thought the limo was the dream itself.) Then Noah watched a team practice, toured campus and hung with the team in the weight room.
Then Donnalley brought everyone in for a meeting to talk about overcoming obstacles. Not just in athletics, but also in life. It led to a discussion about how the UNCC campus was thrown into the spotlight a few months ago when an active shooter on campus killed two people and hurt four other students.
Anchor Molly Grantham spoke up here --
“Whether you knew anyone who was directly involved that day with the shooting here at UNCC, you all came together and overcame,” she said. “We were impressed in our newsroom with how you all lifted yourselves up. You helped show our community how to handle tough circumstances with strength and grace.”
Like Noah. Who constantly fights to overcome big things – and lifts himself up (the viral video shows him jumping right in!).
Wiith that, Derwin Gray, rookie for Pittsburgh Steelers walked in the room.
He’d flown in that morning for Dream On 3 to help give Noah a big surprise, and had been hiding in the hallway.
He asked Noah to come open a big box he had in front of him.
“Know what this is?” he said when Noah pulled out a large piece of black and gold cardboard. “It’s a game ticket. You can come see me play this year... one of the games you can come to Heinz field and watch the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whatever game it is, I’m not sure yet, but it’ll be a special one for you.”
Big cheers. Gray went on.
“We’re drafting you, Noah, for the Steelers!”
Afterwards the whole team, the NFL player, Noah and his family huddled up.
"I knew today my guys were going to make this special for Noah,” Donnalley said afterwards. “And if you could’ve seen them down in the weight room area, they were throwing footballs to him and -- Noah’s a pretty good athlete -- he was catching just about every single pass he was getting. But I bet this moment means as much to our team as it does to Noah himself.”