SCOTCH PLAINS, - Among the many wishes granted this year through the annual Jersey Mike’s “Month of Giving” campaign with Make-A-Wish was Scotch Plains resident Kyle Brainard's visit to the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, in January.

Kyle, who has courageously battled a critical illness always had an admiration for his NFL heroes. The chance to experience a weekend at the Pro Bowl with so many star athletes in attendance was a trip he will never forget.

The 13-year-old faced a long road of hardship when he was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. From chemo therapy to countless doctor visits, his world had completely changed.

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“It’s extremely scary, and for a little while, you’re devastated,’’ said Kyle’s mother, Laura. “We spent a lot of time just trying to process that and realize what reality was going to be like, at least for the next few months.’’

But Kyle’s resilience shined through, and he never let his illness define him. He did not let it sideline him from the things he loved – including sports.

In January, Kyle was accompanied on the trip by his entire family, to Orlando, where they were treated to hotel accommodations at The Animal Kingdom Lodge at the Walt Disney World Resort and had a chance to visit the theme parks. After watching the players practice on Saturday, many of them stopped by to visit with Kyle and other Wish kids to talk with them and sign autographs.

Kyle and his family also met the NFL cheerleaders and had a chance to visit with U.S. Navy pilots, the Tomcatters, who flew over the stadium during the opening ceremonies of the Pro Bowl.

For Kyle, the trip was the experience of a lifetime. Kyle and his entire family look back on their adventure together as the start of a new chapter in their lives.

Thanks to the support of Jersey Mike’s Subs through last year’s “Month of Giving” campaign, Kyle’s wish became a reality. During March, customers can make a donation to Make-A-Wish New Jersey at any of the 60 Jersey Mike’s participating locations in the Garden State. Last year, the company donated $263,000 to Make-A-Wish New Jersey, resulting in more than 25 wishes granted to local children with critical illnesses. 

The campaign will culminate on Wednesday March 28th, Jersey Mike’s “Day of Giving”, when the 60 local restaurants will donate 100% of the day’s sales – every single dollar that comes in – to Make-A-Wish New Jersey, which creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. 

Now celebrating its 35th Anniversary, Make-A-Wish New Jersey has granted over 9,500 wishes since its inception in 1983 – a record 530 wishes last year alone. For more information about Make-A-Wish New Jersey, visit nj.wish.org.

Jersey Mike’s is a fast-casual sub sandwich franchise with more than 1,500 locations open and under development nationwide.