Roadrunners make dream come true for "Andy Boy"
by Pat Turner, goUTSA.com contributing writer
SAN ANTIONIO — Andres “Andy Boy” Pardo has become a big fan of UTSA’s football team this spring.
During that time, the Roadrunners have become an even bigger fan of the 6-year-old.
They love his enthusiasm for football and his overall zest for life. Mostly, he is their newest source of inspiration. Andy, known as “Magnificent Andy Boy” on his Facebook page, has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma and lung cancer, but that setback hasn’t stopped his zest for life.
“Andy Boy has been a blessing,” wide receiver Aron Taylor said after Saturday’s Fourth Annual UTSA Football Fiesta Spring Game. “You look in that kid’s eyes and you see something special. The time we hung out with him was just amazing. With his condition he could be down, but he loves life. He is a great inspiration.”
Andy’s friendship with the Roadrunners began at UTSA’s For the Kids’ Dance Marathon, an event dedicated to providing financial and emotional support to local families facing pediatric cancer. That night, he met players like Taylor before becoming acquainted with more team members while attending a spring practice.
Andy’s highlight came this past Saturday when the Roadrunners made their new friend “Player of the Day” at the Alamodome.
The day started with Andy riding the team bus from UTSA to the dome. He also was presented a jersey with the No. 11 and a locker. During warmups, he had a chance to tackle place-kicker Sean Ianno and, after head coach Larry Coker’s pregame speech, the players ran out on the field and Andy was with them, riding on defensive tackle Ashaad Mabry’s shoulders. After the game, Andy joined the players to sign autographs.
No doubt Andy enjoyed the moment. He smiled from ear to ear when asked about day, especially after making his hard-nosed tackle.
“He loves football,” said Jessica Rosales, who accompanied Andy through the entire day and the recent practice session. “He loves defense. He always wants to tackle. His favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys. Now, he’s a big UTSA fan. He likes all the players and loved being part of the team.”
Making the day special was exactly the way Roadrunners wanted it.
“We met Andy at the dance marathon and had about 20 players there,” Director of Operations Adam Cain said. “That was on a Saturday. On Monday morning, two of the players came to me and wanted to know what else we could do for him. I got in touch with Jessica and told them we would like to have Andy at a practice and game. We got to know him and it worked out well.
“We got him a jersey, sweat bands and gloves, so he was geared up for the day. When he got on the bus, our players gave him a standing ovation.”
Coker was more than happy to get his team involved.
“These guys are like heroes in the city,” he said. "The more good things we can do, the better. This puts things in perspective about what we’re all about as human beings.”
Taking on such community projects means a great deal to Cain and UTSA, especially when it involves helping children like Andy.
“It’s always special to give to kids like Andy,” Cain said. “He’s been through more than anyone of us could imagine going through. His sponsor is amazing with the work she has been doing with Andy.”
Andy and Rosales are an inspirational story in itself.
The two met this past September in the hospital where the 20-year-old also was being treated for cancer. Rosales, a two-time cancer survivor, and Andy developed a lasting friendship. Since then, the two have been almost inseparable.
In addition, her family and Andy’s parents — Lupe and BiBi — have bonded.
“He tells me I am his best friend, but we have become family,” Rosales said. “We call each other brother and sister.
“Andy is so loving. The instant you meet him, you fall in love with him. He always gives the peace sign, but we now call it the Andy sign. I’ve promised I will always be there with him. I want to make his wishes come true.”
During their time together, they also met the Spurs’ Tony Parker and players from the San Antonio Rampage through the Little Fighter Foundation. Thanks to the people at FerrariKid.com, they even got to ride in a Ferrari.
All the events have been thrilling for her young friend, but the time with the Roadrunners might rank at the top of the list.
It was during the practice when the Roadrunners discovered his honesty and gift for humorous quips. While visiting practice that hot morning, players were walking around in their sweaty uniforms and Andy promptly announced they needed a bath. The players loved it and were even happier to have Andy as part of their team.
“His one-liners are great,” Taylor said. “It was great having him out for practice and the spring game. It was awesome to see the smile it put on his face, but it was just as awesome to see the smile he put on our faces.”