Sportress of Blogitude

Luke Kuechly surprises girl with cerebral palsy on 21st birthday (pics)

The Carolina Panthers are sitting at 12-0 and are the toast of the NFL. Amid it all, though, Luke Kuechly understands there are things that truly matter away from the gridiron and took some time to make a dream come true for a very special fan.

The Panthers middle linebacker last Friday surprised Jessica Hayes on her 21st birthday. She has “cerebral palsy, autism, cortical blindness and hydrocephalus, an excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain,” per an ESPN report, and is one of local television station WBTV anchor Molly Grantham’s “Molly’s Kids.’’

In a partnership with Charlotte-based charity “Dream 3,” Kuechly paid a visit to Hayes. But he did crack a joke beforehand about the potential for her to be upset that it was him paying her a visit instead of one of his superstar teammates.

“Hopefully she’s excited,’’ Kuechly said. “That’s the biggest thing. Hopefully she doesn’t come in and go, ‘Ah. I wanted Cam [Newton] to come.’”

The linebacker also gave Hayes an autographed football, as evidenced by photos posted to Twitter by Grantham.

It happens so often that we only hear about the bad things professional athletes get into during their free time. But one only needs to look to the generosity and goodwill routinely demonstrated by Kuechly to quickly realize that isn’t always necessarily the case.