WHEELING, W.Va. (KDKA) — A little girl from Wheeling, West Virginia, has formed a unique friendship with one of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
She’s using his strength and encouragement to inspire her in ways few of us could imagine.
Erin Elswick is like any other 8-year-old girl. She goes to school and plays softball, but unlike most others, she also has an extremely rare autoimmune disorder called CRMO.
“It is Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomiolitus. It’s one in a million. It is something that we had no clue she had that she’s probably had her whole life,” said Kayla Elswick, Erin’s mom. “Basically, she just has bone lesions throughout her body. At the moment, she has 13 in her left foot alone.”
Erin goes to the hospital once a month for infusions of a medication that helps the bone lesions heal.
During one of her trips, she was excited to learn Steelers’ rookie players were also going to be there, including her favorite player, backup quarterback Josh Dobbs.
But, unfortunately, circumstances prevented her from meeting him.
So Erin’s dad reached out to ask for an autograph, but Dobbs went way beyond that.
“To see Josh was pretty cool ‘cause I was in my infusion, and then they just pulled in when I was done with it. Then, he came and surprised me at the play room,” Erin said.
Erin and Dobbs have formed an unlikely bond between football pro and third-grader. She’s seen him play twice so far, and he even gave her a Steelers sock monkey toy.
Her mom says the special relationship has raised Erin’s spirits.
“She just looks up to him so much. She’s like, ‘If he can play football, I can play softball.’ It gets us through. Most kids that have her disorder do not even attempt to play any type of sport, so we’re very thankful that she can do what she can do,” Kayla said.
And if you’ve ever wondered what Dobbs is really like, just ask Erin.
“He’s funny. He’s playful, and he’s humble,” she said.