CHERRY HILL, N.J. -- A Kansas City Chiefs fan donated a kidney to a Philadelphia Eagles fan with whom he used to serve in the Marines. Then both were invited to the Super Bowl.
"When John and I first met in the Marine Corps, he was an old salty Marine that's been there forever," said Billy Welsh.
Welsh served from 2001 to 2005 in the United States Marine Corps. John Gladwell had been serving since 1997. They were both E4 Corporal M1A1 Tank crewmen.
"We kind of parted and went our separate ways," said Welsh. "Twenty years later, I found out I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease."
Welsh now resides in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Gladwell lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Both are superfans of their respective football teams.
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In 2019, Welsh made a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post, saying he needed a new kidney because both of his were "junk." Gladwell saw the post but thought it might be a joke at first.
Nevertheless, he felt compelled to get a blood test and see if he could be the match for Welsh. And, despite their difference in personalities, they were a great match for a kidney donation.
"He's got a son that was roughly the same age as my grandson at the time," said Gladwell. "And I had no other choice."
The successful procedure took place in 2020. Then, ABC Philadelphia affiliate WPVI met the pair in 2021 just before the Philadelphia Eagles faced the Kansas City Chiefs. And now, in 2023, both of those teams faced off in Super Bowl LVII.
And while they bickered about whose team is better, both men received phone calls from their football teams' respective presidents. They were invited to attend the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
The excitement rendered them speechless.
Both were expected to sit together alongside their families.
"We're going to celebrate no matter who wins," said Gladwell. "I hope that it brings out a lot of awareness for organ donation. You're not a match for everybody but you are a match for somebody."