Greensboro boy with Cerebral Palsy meets Panthers heroes

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — A 12-year-old with Cerebral Palsy got an early and rare Christmas present: to tell the Carolina Panthers’ biggest stars in person that he was their biggest fan.

Eric Walker of Greensboro got to spend time with Cam Newton, Steve Smith and other Panther players last week.

“It was a dream come true,” Eric said through a special computer that lets him communicate.

While Eric is physically unable to walk or talk, that doesn’t keep him from inspiring those around him.

“He teaches me something every minute of every day. I’m thankful God chose me as his mother,” Melanie said.

Eric’s speech pathologist, Jennifer Tate, is also amazed. Eric has such a hard work ethic that he is among the successful sixth graders at Kernodle Middle School.

“Eric is so familiar with the thousands of words that are avalabile on this computer that he can actually scan that without looking, which is incredible,” Jennifer said.

When Jennifer thought of rewards for Eric, she wondered if she could get the Carolina Panthers to meet their number one fan.

“Every chance he gets he’s talking about the Panthers,” said Sarah Durham, Tate’s intern this semester.

“I believe I am their number one fan,” Eric said.

Sarah’s sister just happens to work for the Power of Play Foundation, founded by former Panther Ricky Proehl. Sarah said Proehl was more than willing to make it happen.

“Ricky was great with getting it all set up,” Sarah said.

As the Panthers arrived, Eric said he was happy, excited and nervous all at the same time.

“Meeting Cam Newton was a happy moment, but Steve Smith is my all-time favorite player. Seeing him and him signing my jersey was the most exciting moment, but meeting Cam was cool, too. That day I felt like the luckiest boy alive. I will never forget that day,” Eric said.

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