St. Louis sophomore Veuleman granted wish, chance to meet Peyton Manning

By By John Guidroz / American Press

As Harrison Veuleman went into his most recent surgery to treat the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy, he brought along

a doll of his favorite NFL player, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

On Monday, Veuleman found out that he will travel to Denver to meet Manning, attend practice with the Broncos and attend the

Oct. 13 game between the Broncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The wish was granted courtesy of the Louisiana State Police

Troop D Grant-A-Wish program.

“It feels great going to meet (Manning),” said Veuleman, a sophomore at St. Louis High School.

Veuleman’s mother, Amy, said he has overcome many obstacles after being born more than two months premature. As an infant,

he spent more than a month in a neonatal intensive care unit and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that

can affect movement and the nervous system.

Veuleman has had numerous surgeries on his legs and knees since 2002, the most recent including both of his legs, his knees

and his foot. He is still recovering and attending rehabilitation.

Amy said her son has been a longtime football fan. But she said he started following Manning after neck surgery forced

the quarterback to miss the entire 2011 season.

“I think he saw some parallels between his constant surgeries and recoveries and the story with (Manning),” she said.

Veuleman’s wish was to visit Houston to watch the Texans play the Broncos. But his family later found out that Manning does

not do meet and greets during away games. The Grant-A-Wish program raised enough money to pay for Veuleman and his family

to travel to Denver.

Because Veuleman is in a wheelchair, Amy said it has been difficult to attend professional football games.

“It’s frustrating, like any parent, when you feel like there’s a lack of access,” she said. “He’s never been able to get inside

a major sports arena.”

After the announcement, District 9 Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Kevin Guidry issued a proclamation recognizing the day as

“Harrison Day.” Guidry, a former Bronco player, let Veuleman wear his team ring.

About eight wishes have been granted over the last two years, according to Paula Livingston, a volunteer wish coordinator.

She said each wish costs about $6,000 and is paid for through fundraising efforts.

“Just to see them smile and to know they don’t have to worry for a week or so, it’s the best feeling ever,” she said.