Carter and The Boss
The balloon had floated above his bed in Children’s Hospital for months while he underwent treatment for his Spina Bifida.
Once a reminder of one of the gloomiest times in Carter’s life, it now recalled the sunniest day.
On Monday, after three years of requests to the Make-A-Wish foundation and only days out of the hospital, Carter came face to face with his musical idol before a concert at the TD Garden.
His parents Chrissy and Scott were worried he wouldn’t be up to meeting The Boss after his long medical ordeal.
They under-estimated their son.
“This says it all. This captures my heart,” his father Scott said, flashing a photo of Carter in his Springsteen T-shirt and beaming from ear to ear before the family headed to the limousine that would take them into Boston.
“’Tougher than the Rest’ – that’s Carter’s anthem,” Scott said of his son’s favorite Springsteen song.
The meeting fulfilled a lifelong dream for Carter. He has been a devoted Springsteen fan since he first saw him perform on television during a 2009 Superbowl half-time show.
He was only two and a half at the time and disabled from Spina Bifida since birth. But his parents found their son bouncing on the sofa and waving his arms to the music.
He’s been moving to the beat ever since.
Carter was supposed to be released from the hospital a week before the concert but was rushed into emergency surgery. Doctors said he would be in intensive care with a breathing tube for four days.
Chrissy said she worried her son’s dream would be dashed.
“I kept saying he’s got that date. He’s got to go,” she said.
But in a near miraculous turn of events, doctors were able to remove the tube the following day.
Carter returned home Friday and was still weak on Saturday. His parents wondered how he was going to make it.
“On Sunday, he was feeling a little better. The thought of meeting Bruce was really healing for him,” Scott said.
The family was escorted into the Garden and watched as Springsteen and the E Street Band ran through their sound checks. Carter stared at the stage in stunned silence and, even when Springsteen waved to him, Carter turned around to see who was behind him.
Then Springsteen jumped off the stage and spent an hour with Carter and his 2-year old sister Skye. He autographed Carter’s guitar and sang “Waiting on a Sunny Day” to him.
“Carter told Bruce he loved him and Bruce said ‘I love you too,’” Scott recalled.
The family was seated in a VIP section where Carter nodded off in Chrissy’s arms just before the end of the show. But, when the band broke into “Born to Run,” Carter bolted up and started shaking his arms to the music.
“He sang all way back home in the limo,” Scott said.
Beyond the glory and media coverage of the celebrity meeting, Chrissy and Scott say they just didn’t want to ruin Carter’s wish.
The family is enjoying a return to normalcy and home cooked meals after almost three months at Carter’s hospital bedside.
Carter is anxious to get back to his Roland Green pre-school. His teacher and classmates have been rooting for his recovery. He will attend kindergarten full-time in September.
When the family moved to Mansfield from Hyde Park, New York last year, Scott started a tradition of taking his children to the local Dunkin’ Donuts every Saturday.
Last weekend, all the restaurant staff and regulars welcomed Carter back.
“Putting everything else aside, being a family again was the nicest part,” Scott said.
He says he’s now one of Springsteen’s biggest fans because of the way he treated his children.
“He was so genuine and loving. He told us ‘you have great kids.’”