By Jessica McWilliams
WILLIAMSTOWN, NJ (CBS) — Nine-year-old Angel Collazo, of Williamstown, New Jersey, will be taking the trip of a lifetime.
The Gloucester County soccer fan is one of 26 youngsters from the United States who were selected to escort the U.S. soccer team onto the field during the 2014 World Cup. Angel will walk alongside the U.S. team as they take to the field in Brazil on June 16th.
Angel was one of 1,408 randomly selected winners of the Player Escort Program –an international contest hosted by FIFA World Cup sponsor, McDonald’s. Young soccer fans from all over the globe are selected to escort their country’s players, hand-in-hand, onto the field.
Edgar Collazo, Angel’s dad, said he noticed promotion for the contest while getting breakfast, but it wasn’t the trip to Brazil that caught his eye; it was the $1,000 prize for the winning player’s soccer team.
Edgar said he completed the entry form and thought nothing more of it, “You never think you’re actually going to win.”
A week later, the phone rang and the voice on the other end delivered the news – Angel had won.
“We had to keep it a secret for a few weeks – and that was hard,” said Edgar.
Then, on Friday, May 9th, Ronald McDonald ran out onto the soccer field surprising the third grader and his fellow Monroe Mustangs teammates during their practice.
“He said his [Angel’s] name and his teammates were going wild,” said Edgar.
Ronald McDonald took to the field and played with the budding soccer stars before presenting the Monroe Township Youth Soccer organization with a $1,000 check.
“We are most proud about that,” said Edgar of the generous donation to the MTYS league.
Angel’s dad said the organization has been great with his son, who has been playing since he was about five.
Angel, who was a foster child and taken in by the Collazo’s at three-months-old before being adopted as a toddler, has defied all odds medically.
“Angel is very special to us; he was an abused child with a significant skull injury,” said Angel’s mom, Sarabeth. “Doctor’s said he may not see, speak or walk. He’s doing everything and he’s pretty darn amazing.”
Angel now thrives as a young athlete.
“He had natural talent from the beginning and the coaches recognized that,” said Edgar. “He’s one of the kids when you see him on the field, he’s always smiling and enjoying himself — and he truly enjoys the time he’s spending out there.”
And now, Angel will have an opportunity to enjoy a big moment on a field that most soccer players can only dream about one day gracing.
“He has no idea how lucky he is … I said to him, ‘Angel, this is kind of bigger than the Super Bowl, bigger than the World Series,” said Edgar.
Angel, his mom, dad, and little sister, Anya, 6, are preparing to leave in a couple weeks and will enjoy this once-in-a-life-time moment as a family.
Sarabeth is confident though, this trip will not be the family’s last: “Angel will be playing in the World Cup some day – I think so.”