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Local Swimmer Enjoys Surprise Meet and Greet with Michael Phelps

August 30th, 2019 · Leave a Comment

A Jacksonville teen, Rian Covington, saw his dreams come true when retired competitive swimmer and Olympian, Michael Phelps, recently knocked on his hotel door in Phoenix, Arizona.

Organized by Dreams Come True, Northeast Florida’s locally based dream-granting organization for children battling life-threatening illnesses, Rian, 16, was unaware that a trip with his mom to Phoenix, Arizona was more than a getaway.

Rian and Michael’s time together included swimming laps and discussing all the proper techniques that would help the young swimmer in his career.

“Since 1984, Dreams Come True has been dedicated to creating unforgettable memories for local children and their families battling life-threatening illnesses,” said Sheri Criswell, Executive Director, Dreams Come True. “Rian is an inspiration to us and we are so grateful to THE PLAYERS and everyone who helped us provide a little inspiration to him by connecting Rian with his personal hero, Michael Phelps.”

THE PLAYERS sponsored Rian’s dream following a $60,000 gift to Dreams Come True in June. The donation was earmarked to fulfill the dreams of 12 Northeast Florida children over the next year, with Rian being the first dream recipient.

“It has truly been an honor to partner with Dreams Come True since the very beginning,” said Jared Rice, Executive Director, THE PLAYERS. “We share a passion for kids and families in our community, and it is through the support of our fans, Proud Partners and this entire community that we are able to work with organizations like Dream Come True to strengthen, improve and positively impact the lives of citizens like Rian throughout Northeast Florida.”

Rian was an up-and-coming swimmer on the Bolles and Atlantic Coast High School swim teams before being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on December 24, 2018. At the time of his diagnosis, Rian was preparing to train for the Junior National in California and had to put his plans on hold.

“My world was shaken, and I had to toughen up very quickly,” stated Rian in a letter to Michael Phelps, courtesy of Dreams Come True. “I have been blessed enough to receive excellent medical care and I have an outstanding support group to help me through it all.”

Following his diagnosis, Rian was referred to Dreams Come True by Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, one of Dreams Come True’s referring partners. Rian quickly knew that his dream would be to meet Michael Phelps and “learn butterfly techniques from the man who swims it the best.”

Dreams Come True is celebrating 35 years of fulfilling dreams for local children battling life-threatening illnesses. Dreams Come True is the only locally based dream-granting organization whose vision is to grant the dream of every First Coast child battling a life-threatening illness, while bringing them hope and joy throughout their medical journey. For additional information about Dreams Come True, please visit www.dreamscometrue.org or call 904.296.3030.

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