The Gonzalez family is headed to New Jersey.
A national fundraising effort has succeeded in its stated goal of raising enough money to send Louie Gonzalez to the New York Jets' home opener. Gonzalez, who suffers from a rare brain disorder where there is excess fluid in the brain, has experienced plenty during his life. His family was told he likely wouldn't survive emergency surgery and then at other times that he would be in a vegetative state or confined to a wheelchair. He defied all expectations and now he is able to walk and play with his children.
A fervent Jets fan since the Bill Parcells era, his story and struggles caught the attention of Jason Koeppel, the founder of FireJohnIdzik.com. He worked with fellow fans to create TeamLouie2nyc.com to send Gonzalez and his family to the season opener at MetLife Stadium, a facility he has never been to before.
This past week, the fundraising total eclipsed $6,000 and the whole family will be going to the game. Jets linebacker Demario Davis pledged field passes and a parking pass for his family for the game.
“Probably going to one of the practices when we arrive and then we have a dinner party reserved for Saturday night at Redd's with everybody who donated to 'TeamLouie' and maybe DeMario Davis and probably some cheer leaders will attend too,” Gonzalez told Metro.
“And of course the game on Sunday with the tailgating and everything.”
The funds were raised in just nine days with Koeppel noting that the excess money will be used to throw a party for Gonzalez at Redd's Restaurant & Bar in Carlstadt, N.J.
His entire family – wife and three kids – will be making the flight to catch the game. After all that he has been through including being one time pronounced legally dead, Gonzalez can't wait for the moment and thank the people who have helped him make this journey.
He hasn't been to the Meadowlands in nearly eight years, making this his first trip to MetLife Stadium.
“In 2007 versus the [Miami] Dolphins in the old Giants Stadium. The highlight of that game was when Chad Pennington ran in for a touch down and slammed the ball down. Chad is one of my all time favorites,” Gonzalez said.
“And I drove up from Florida just to watch that game and then drove all the way back to Florida 18 hours later with no sleep. People called me crazy for doing that but i told them it's for my Jets. I would drive all the way to Seattle for them if I had to.
“And my wife and kids never attended a game at all. This home opener is going be a first time for them.”