Lifelong Cubs fan Stefan Xidas was given the chance to live his dream this year, singing the Star Spangled Banner before a sold out crowd at Wrigley Field.
Xidas, a Chicago native who happens to have Down Syndrome, was grinning ear to ear as he belted out the National Anthem in front of friends and family seated in the upper deck of the friendly confines.
“This is my shining moment right here,” Stefan said. “It’s been the best time I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
How Stefan got this opportunity is quite the story. With the help of some friends, Xidas had made a video challenging Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts to let him sing the anthem in a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $18,000 for the Special Olympic. After seeing the video, the Cubs pledged to match what Stefan had raised.
Stefan’s father, Stan, said that his son’s two childhood friends played a monumental role in giving his son this incredible moment.
“Since kindergarten, Stefan has had two really great friends, Tommy Molitor and John Rucinski,” Stan said. “They were friends in neighborhood. They literally have enveloped his life, have done everything with him and for him. They have blessed Stefan beyond belief in his life, but it’s so reciprocal.”
“Tommy, who happens to be a videographer, suggested we do a GoFundMe campaign,” Stan continued. “He put the whole thing together. This is all Tommy. It’s awesome. Here we are.”
Once the campaign was launched, the Xidas family was blown away with how well it was received.
“It just kind of took off after we put it on Facebook,” Stan said. “Everybody was really supportive of it. We got calls after calls from friends and family. Donations started coming in. It was tremendous.”
Before stepping onto the field, Stefan was given a tour of the clubhouse, and had a chance to meet the team. While many might be nervous to sing in front of a crowd, Stefan was seemingly too happy to be nervous.
“I have practiced so many times,” he said before going on. “Then I had some hot tea. Now that I’m on the field, I’m going to enjoy it. It’s going to be the best.”
After he had finished, Stefan made a bold proclamation.
“After I sing the national anthem, I told them that the Cubs will definitely go to the playoffs and they will win,” he said. “I will make sure of it.”
I can’t imagine there being a dry eye in that place once Stefan was finished. What an incredible moment for everyone involved.