No single dream is like the other. Many fans may long to meet Joe Staley, but when the famed linebacker hands over his practice gloves signed with a message of encouragement, the wish meets a new extremity. In the words of Jose Garcia, it seals the package of a "dream come true."
Jose Marcelo Garcia II lived a normal childhood and became a 49ers fan at a young age. Following in his father's footsteps, he spent Sundays glued to the games, cheering on his favorite players. After school, he was found on the field or court playing basketball, t-ball, soccer, and of course—football. It was not until Jose visited the hospital for an infection in his throat that his everyday life was turned upside down. One month after his sixteenth birthday, his plans for the school year ahead and getting his driver's license turned into a doctor's plan for chemotherapy treatments – he had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Most days, October through April, were spent surrounded by four hospital walls and rounds of chemotherapy, but Jose still committed his Sundays to 49ers Football.
"The 49ers were a source of inspiration for me while I was in the hospital," reflected Jose, "They were the reason I kept a smile on my face through the most difficult times brought on by my battle with cancer."
In April, Jose's medical charts read "remission." Eight months later, he was ready to meet his inspiration and, through the partnership of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and San Francisco 49ers, brought his family to 49ers Headquarters in Santa Clara. The adventure began as the Garcia family drove up to the offices and a close up view of the Levi's Stadium construction. Just twenty feet away from Levi's Stadium was 49ers Headquarters, home to the 49ers five Lombardi trophies, Hall of Fame, front office, and meeting rooms where the strategy development for weekly match-ups takes place. After posing with the Super Bowl trophies, Jose and his family were lead on a tour of the halls of the facility which encompasses one-of-a-kind art pieces and exclusive framed images of the franchise's most celebrated moments.
"Seeing the Hall of Fame which showcased [Jerry] Rice's and [Joe] Montana's jerseys was awe-inspiring," stated Jose, "It was incredible to see so much history on one wall."
Jose and the Garcia family then went to the practice field and stood intently on the sidelines, absorbing every drill and skill while pointing out their favorite players. As practice ended, Jose eagerly held his white-paneled football and awaited the autographs of the athletes who kept him motivated throughout his battle. Knowing Jose's story, the players were inspired and stopped to hear more about his journey and road to recovery. Patrick Willis took time to shake hands and engage in conversation, but sent Jose's experience over-the-top when he removed his practice gloves and handed them to the teenaged boy who credited Willis' game day hits for the extra motivation to beat his own opponent – cancer.
"The highlight of today was seeing Patrick give his gloves to Jose and witnessing the kindness he showed towards my son," said Jose Garcia Sr. "I am speechless," added Jose II, "A year ago I did not think I would be here, but here I am meeting my favorite NFL players who I watched in the hospital every Sunday. It is a dream come true."