CABOT, Ark. — Gunter Garvin was diagnosed with an enlarged heart prior to the start of his sophomore season of high school football.
"Gunter's condition is the scariest for coaches, parents, athletic trainers," said Jason Cates, the Director of Athletic Services for Cabot Public Schools. "Because he is the kid that would've dropped dead and you wouldn't have known anything was wrong until he hit the ground."
When he was initially sent for additional testing, his family admits they thought it was no big deal. That is, until they got the results of the echocardiogram. "My husband called and said, 'no it's serious and we have an appointment with the cardiologist the next morning," said Melissa Garvin. "So that's when it got real."
For his safety, Garvin had to give up playing football. For someone who had loved football for almost his entire life, his mother said it was a difficult transition. "It was devastating," she said.
Although he couldn't play, Garvin remained involved with Cabot football, serving as a team manager for the past three seasons. "When we got the news from the cardiologist at Arkansas Children's, I said, 'this does not have to be the end of football for you," said Cates. "Gunter is my right hand man. He helps me every day at practice, 5 a.m. in the morning, late at night, he's there with his brothers."
Garvin has never given up his love for the game of football. Which is why when the Make-A-Wish Foundation asked him to put together a list of potential wishes, one of them was to go to the Super Bowl. He just never thought it would be the one that would come true.
Garvin was surprised with a trip to Super Bowl LIII during halftime of Tuesday night's game between Northside and Cabot as the Make-A-Wish Foundation's 'MVP'.
"This is a crazy big surprise," Gunter said after the presentation. "I don't really know what to say in this moment."
Said Melissa, "for him to get to do something so special and just for him, after he's been encouraging and lifting people up for these last three years, for it to finally be about him is going to be pretty cool."