Adelaine Powell has an adorable cheerleader outfit, a family full of Buc fans and one big fan of her own in Coach Jon Gruden
Each morning, as a special treat to Buccaneer rooters who make it out to training camp, team staffers have been randomly selecting two practice attendees to be the Fans of the Day. These lucky fans are brought on to the field at the end of practice and given exclusive access to players and coaches.
On Tuesday, there was nothing random about the selections, but nobody was complaining.
Tuesday's Fans of the Day were two lovely little girls and their families. Three-year-olds Adelaine Powell and Peyton Mayhew, dressed in cheerleader customs and surrounded by their parents and siblings, came onto the field as part of a special seven-day adventure at Disney. They were greeted warmly by a series of Buccaneers, including Head Coach Jon Gruden, quarterbacks Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski, cornerback Ronde Barber and running back Earnest Graham.
Adelaine and Peyton are leukemia patients at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. Diagnosed just 12 days apart, they have become fast friends, as have the entire Powell and Mayhew families. On Tuesday, Peyton's older brother and sister, Nathaniel and Rachel, were having a grand time chasing Adelaine around the field like a pair of linebackers chasing a running back…albeit a giggling running back.
The girls are still in the midst of their respective treatments – Adelaine has a year of chemotherapy left; Peyton has two years of treatment to go – but for this week at least they are putting their cares aside. Sponsored by the Children's Dream Fund, the two families are enjoying a Give Kids the World trip that has also taken them to a series of theme parks and provided accommodations for the week.
"We did all the parks, and yesterday we went to Give Kids the World and that is like a park in itself," said Angela Powell, Adelaine's mother. "It's incredible, and it's all geared towards kids who have life-threatening illnesses. They give kids the world, they really do! Ice cream at all times of the day and night!"
Founded in 1981, the Children's Dream Fund is devoted to helping make dreams come true for seriously ill children between the ages of three and 18. Children are referred to the organization by seven hospitals on Florida's West Coast, including All Children's, and they fulfill dreams ranging from celebrity meetings to Disney trips. Adelaine and Peyton's dream included a little of both, and it marked the first time that the organization had sent two families on a trip together. You can learn more about the Children's Dream fund at their website here.
Adelaine was accompanied by her father Doug, her mother Angela and her two brothers, Mason and Bowen. Peyton, Rachael and Nathanial were accompanied by their parents, Pete and Anissa. Both families agreed that the vacation was a stress-breaker not only for the brave girls fighting leukemia but to their brothers and sisters.
"It's been a great little getaway to come out here," said Angela Powell. "Children's Dream Fund sent us on this fabulous little vacation, and we all needed it. This was just as good for the siblings as it was for the girls."
The Buccaneer trip came at the end of the trip and was a perfect capper to a wonderful week, as both families are loaded with longtime Buc supporters. They were particularly pleased to visit with Coach Gruden, who took pictures with the girls, signed several autographs and handed his visor to Peyton.
"This has been absolutely incredible, to meet the coach and the players," said Powell. "We're huge Bucs fans, so this is just icing on the cake."