From the outside, Jhorden Eberhart seems like any other kid. He arrived at One Buccaneer Place on Friday sporting a number three Buccaneers jersey with his favorite player's name emblazoned on the back: Winston.
"He's a big [Jameis Winston] fan," his mother, Britney Mack, said. "He's a big football fan, period."
But Jhorden is here with the Children's Dream Fund because as a newborn, Jhorden was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. It is a chronic and life-threatening condition that frequently gives him headaches and body pain, his mother says.
It was a case manager for the Children's Dream Fund and Jhorden's doctors that got him in touch with the Buccaneers. He told them his Dream was to meet quarterback Jameis Winston.
"The case manager got in touch with us, and here we are," Mack said.
Jhorden got a tour of the Buccaneers' practice facility and danced to the music over the loud speaker with his brother, Keithan, as they watched Bucs players run drills from the side of the practice fields.
"He's so happy," his mom said, looking on as Jhorden and his dance moves made a guest appearance on the Bucs' Snapchat. Jhorden was just told about a month ago that his doctor couldn't give him clearance to play football anymore, his favorite sport.
"He's had a lot of ups and downs this year," Mack explained.
While Jhorden, who wants to be a neurosurgeon when he grows up, may not currently be playing football, he did manage to grab a few football player's autographs for his jersey. After practice, a swarm of players came over to say, "hi" and give the young man some well wishes.
After finishing a few drills himself, Jameis Winston came trotting over, bee-lining straight for Jhorden and his brother. Jhorden and the quarterback shared a special moment when Winston asked what position the ten-year-old usually plays.
"Receiver," Jhorden said, shyly.
Winston then motioned for Jhorden to follow him to the nearest field where, as Jhorden's mother and brother looked on, he caught a touchdown pass in the end zone from the Buccaneers' star QB, complete with a touchdown celebration and all.
And that is a pretty great highlight for any player's football career.
The Children's Dream Fund is based in St. Petersburg and serves children in central and western Florida with life-threatening illnesses. To learn more about the organization, visit www.childrensdreamfund.org.