Dom Fuller signed a one-day contract with the Carolina Panthers on Friday, but instead of earning millions of dollars, his agent – who’s also his younger brother – negotiated his salary in candy.
Dom, 8, who is listed as an “offensive dynamo” by the team, is the Panthers’ latest Make-A-Wish Foundation draftee. The rising fourth grader at Edwards Knox Central School in New York is battling cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.
He’s one of seven kids who will have their wish granted this season. And, to him, it is something he’ll never forget.
“I’m really happy. It’s life shocking,” he said at a press conference Friday before the Panthers’ annual Fan Fest at Bank of America Stadium.
Sir Purr, the team’s mascot, escorted Dom to the team meeting room after signing his contract that morning. Once there, back-up quarterback Joe Webb III picked him up and twirled him around like he was Superman.
Dom practiced alongside the team Friday night, earning loud applause from the crowd. He wore a red No.14 jersey resembling Webb’s and his American flag-themed Under Armour cleats were a gift to him from quarterback Cam Newton.
Fans watched the team practice less than a week before the Panthers’ first preseason game. The event sold out the stadium by Friday afternoon despite a $5 entry fee, after previous events had been free.
Dom’s mother, Darcy Fuller, said seeing his excitement when her son was on the field interacting with players was inspiring.
“There are no words for it,” she said.
One year ago, Fuller’s lung function depleted to 60 percent. But after a few procedures, she said his function is now around 80 percent.
Seeing the joy on his face as Dom moved among the players and toured the stadium was moving, she said. And as the Panthers begin their season, she was grateful they gave him a contract, even if it was different than most.
“He’ll never get to do anything like this again in his life,” she said. “ He’s been through so much and he really deserves it.”