Dreams come true at Disney World, but this time Gabe Davis was the one who helped make them happen.
The former UCF Knights wide receiver and current Buffalo Bills rookie, alongside his teammate and Orlando native Matt Milano, arranged for an 8-year-old from Buffalo to live out his dream of being able to walk and run.
Jackson DeLude was born without fully developed legs, according to a Disney Parks release. For Christmas, all he wanted to do was be able to “run alongside his friends.” Davis and Milano heard his story, stepped in and made it happen.
The wide receiver and linebacker duo heard about Jackson’s story while training in Orlando, according to ESPN. The gym they were training at is part of Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates, which provides exactly what Jackson needs to be able to run.
The Bills teammates arranged and covered the cost for Jackson and his mother Ashley to fly to Orlando to have him fitted for two prosthetic legs. They also threw in a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where Jackson was able to bounce around the park on his new prosthetic legs sporting a Mickey Mouse hoodie, face mask and ears.
Means the world to put a smile on your face Jackson https://t.co/6srOoOpwP7— Gabriel Davis (@DavisGB1) December 15, 2020
“We thought it was a great thing to do for Jackson,” Milano told ESPN. “Christmas time, it was a chance to give back to the community — especially someone from Buffalo. ... This was a quick thing. We learned about it and in the next couple days, he was doing his thing.”
It being Jackson and Ashley’s first time at Disney World made the experience all the more memorable.
“Being in Disney for the first time in his blades in this magical place together, he’ll never forget it,” Jackson’s mother Ashley said.
Davis and Milano “met” Jackson for the first time over Zoom on Monday, according to an ESPN SportsCenter broadcast.
All 8-year-old Jackson DeLude wanted was the ability to run.— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) December 16, 2020
Matt Milano and Gabriel Davis gave him a special gift that will change his life. ❤️ @SportsCenter | @NotTheFakeSVP pic.twitter.com/nx9Uc449ll
Davis asked, “How does it feel to run, bro? How does it feel?”
“Great,” Jackson said. “Now when I get back to school, I can keep up with my friends and participate in stuff.”
Milano said, “He might be faster than you, Gabe!”
“That’s all because of you guys,” Jackson said.
This isn’t the first time Davis uses his platform to give back to the community. During the Thanksgiving holiday, he donated $2,500 to Seminole High School to help lift his former football team to a strong playoff run. He also donated Thanksgiving meals from Sonny’s BBQ to the Sanford police and fire departments.
Daniella Medina is a contributing writer for Black & Gold Banneret. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.