BOSTON (CBS) – Brunel Etienne says one his childhood dreams has come true thanks to New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty. “I got two Super Bowl tickets from Devin McCourty. I was completely awestruck,” Brunel said.

The 26-year-old was born with sickle cell anemia, an inherited life-threatening blood disease common among African Americans. Brunel actually suffered a severe stroke when he was young. “One big stroke where my whole left side was paralyzed,” he said. “Now my left side is weaker than my right side.”

Devin McCourty and Brunel Etienne (Courtesy photo)

The McCourty twins have made it their mission to help tackle sickle cell. Some of their relatives also have the disease. Recently Devin invited Brunel to Gillette Stadium and surprised him with two tickets to Super Bowl LIII. “I always wanted to go to the Super Bowl but never thought it would come so soon,” Brunel said.

After the Super Bowl Brunel will begin a new gene therapy trial at Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Hospital Cancer and Blood Disorder Center. He hopes to tackle sickle cell the same way Devin tackles on the football field. “I am both nervous and excited about it,” Brunel said.

Brunel Etienne (WBZ-TV)

Brunel says he will be closely watching Sunday’s game against the Chiefs and sent his favorite player a quick note. “I texted Devin and told him you got this,” Brunel said.

The two have been buddies for the past three years and have been to several fundraising events to help raise money. “Devin I thank you for this amazing experience to go to the Super Bowl. Hopefully I will see you there,” Brunel said.

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