FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Miller family of Forsyth County was treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience as guests of the National Football League and the Philadelphia Eagles at Super Bowl LIV Feb. 2.
“We’re exhausted, still on the weekend high. It was incredible,” Tammy Miller said.
Wearing Eagles attire, Tammy, her husband Steve, and their 12 children were seated in the first row, behind the San Francisco 49ers’ bench, surrounded by the excitement and high energy at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., Super Bowl Sunday.
“We clapped for both teams,” Tammy said.
Tammy and Steve have five biological daughters and have adopted seven special needs children.
Now ranging in age from 10 to 26, the group includes six sons and six daughters.
Rowan, 11, is an active boy, despite his gait issues from cerebral palsy. He loves football and transforms into quite the player in the family’s front yard games. The Eagles are his team.
The Millers learned of their trip when Eagles President Don Smolenski paid a visit to Otwell Middle School back in December where the family and relatives were working on a food-packing day of service for Rise for Hunger.
Smolenski brought along Eagles mascot Swoop and several of the team’s cheerleaders for photos, fun and the big announcement.
“When he [Smolenski] walked in, Rowan immediately recognized him,” Tammy said.
Rowan had hoped to one day get a fist bump from his favorite player, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, but on that December day, he got something better: an invitation to the Super Bowl from Wentz.
Each year, NFL teams are given four tickets to the Super Bowl to give away to fans. The Eagles chose Rowan as their recipient.
“When Eagles Coach Doug Pederson heard about us, he asked if the whole family could go and the NFL graciously gave the additional 10 tickets,” Tammy said. “Coach Pederson and his wife are kind, genuine people.”
The Whitlow Elementary School student and the 27-year old quarterback first met in September.
Tammy and Steve gave him tickets to the game that month when the Eagles were in town to take on the Atlanta Falcons. Word got out of Rowan’s wish to get a fist bump from the quarterback. Soon after, Tammy received a call from The Granted Wish Foundation seeking to arrange the meetup.
The Eagles gave Rowan tickets, sideline passes, hotel accommodations and a “meet and greet” with several players. Rowan went with his parents, younger brother Kellen, 10, and went home with autographed jerseys and hats, Tammy said.
Although Rowan is non-verbal, he communicates with his “talker” a machine that voices what he types.
“He gets his point across and expresses his feelings. He’s animated,” Tammy said.
Now back home and settling into her family’s usual routine, Tammy spends time on something near to her heart: Keystone Village, a residential situation for adults with special needs. She and friend Beth Burns are working to create the development so their children — and others in Forsyth County — can remain in a community “that loves them and wonderfully educated them” when their parents are no longer able to care for them.