BOSTON (CBS) – What a night for Mookie Betts Friday, hitting three home runs in the Red Sox win over the Yankees! It was an especially memorable game for one of his biggest fans – a Make a Wish kid who got to meet the World Series champ during batting practice.

Ten-year-old Nico Sapienza of Saugus lives with Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

“It kind of kills off the motor neurons in the spinal cord that allow a person to eat, breathe, or speak,” his mom Susie explains.

Every four months, Nico undergoes a procedure at Children’s Hospital to manage the disease – keeping Nico on the baseball field. Talking shop with his idols during a meet-and-greet, Nico shared how those regular spinal injections help him play out of his league.

Nico Sapienza meets Mookie Betts before game at Fenway Park (WBZ-TV)

“We talked about how I play baseball, and I play in the Jimmy Fund for the 12 (year-olds),” Nico said.

It was an unforgettable night, including a private tour of Fenway Park, a front row seat to batting practice, and dinner at the EMC Club.

“Right now I’m happy and it’s really exciting! I’m a big Red Sox fan,” he said.

While Nico was a little star-struck meeting his heroes, little does he know he’s an inspiration himself.

“Kind of keeps it in perspective when we have a bad day. Always someone looking up to you, you have to be positive for,” said Mookie Betts.

Mookie Betts with Nico Sapienza and his family (WBZ-TV)

“He’s a pillar of strength in our family. He’s goofy. You probably can’t tell from today, but he’s one strong kid,” Susie added.

Fourteen years ago when Nico’s parents got married, their wedding favor was a donation to Make a Wish – not knowing their future son would one day benefit from the organization.

Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island creates life-changing wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses between the ages of 2½ and 18. The organization has granted more than 8,500 wishes for children in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in its 32-year history.

Juli McDonald

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