Coral Springs Youth Soccer coach Brian Javeline was just hoping to provide a very special child with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take center stage.
Javeline later found out that his event was going to take on a much greater significance as the child’s father was being deployed by the military for the next two years.
Mission accomplished on both fronts.
Javeline, who coaches multiple soccer teams for the Coral Springs Youth Soccer organization, named one of his player’s siblings the “No. 1 Fan of the Coral Springs Youth Soccer League” in a recent ceremony at Mullins Park.
Matthew Vein is wheelchair-bound for life and has attended all of his sister Alexis’ practices and games in support of the team.
Javeline wanted to make it a memorable day, so he presented Matthew with a customized soccer gold medal engraved with the words “No.1 fan” and also a signed game jersey from the Under-15 Division girls’ soccer team.
Matthew and his father, Robert, then raced through a human soccer tunnel stretching across the field and including team members, their families and friends, veterans and members of the Coral Springs Police Department.
The family also received a free dinner from Vito’s Pizza, along with a large donation from the many families making up the girls’ squad.
“We felt he would never be able to win an award on the soccer field or be able to run through a tunnel at the end of the game,” Javeline said, “so we wanted to give him that opportunity.”
Lisa Vien, a 2000 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, has three children: Alexis, 14, Matthew, 6, and Kaylee, 8. Previously a stay-at-home mom, she recently opened a catering company to help with the bills. She was a 911 dispatcher for nine years previously. Her husband has been in the military for the past eight years and leaves for deployment in North Africa on April 4.
Matthew has Lesch-Nyhan disease, a rare genetic disorder. Children with this disease get kidney stones, cannot control their muscles and develop an irresistible urge to try to hurt themselves. The condition, which mostly affects males, affects 1 in every 380,000 individuals.
“He was my third child, so I knew something wasn’t right,” Lisa Vien said. “He wasn’t holding his head up and meeting certain milestones. When he was born, he wasn’t breathing and they had to resuscitate him, and they initially thought he had cerebral palsy.”
One very positive aspect of Matthew’s life, however, is his obsession with sports.
Robert Vien drove down the day before the event to surprise his family and said he will forever remember the look on his son’s face that day.
“For me, being that I am away so much, just seeing him smile means the world to me,” Robert Vien said. “I just thought it was about Matthew, and then it was more about helping the family out. That really touched my heart, to see coach Brian go way above and beyond anything I could have imagined.”
His wife agreed. “This was awesome. Seeing a smile on his face makes me want to cry because these are all of the things I wish he had the opportunity to do on his own, because I know how much he wants to do it.
“The fact that they recognized him makes him feel like he participated,” she said. “There is nothing greater as a parent to feel that for your child. I know he will never be able to have those things or do those things.”
In his 11 years of coaching in the local recreational soccer league, Javeline called this experience “one of the coolest things in my life.”
“Matthew deserved it, and the dad deserved it,” Javeline said. “It was a combination of everything. I just wanted to give them the opportunity to have a couple of [memories] to share.”