Teen battling rare disorder meets hero

Michael Perrino meets Coach Rob Mendez
Posted at 11:51 PM, Sep 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 02:59:12-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — At first glance you'd think Michael Perrino and Rob Mendez are best friends.

The truth is, they just met for the first time.

Mendez is a high school football coach in San Jose, Calif. You might recognize him. He was honored with the Jimmy V perseverance award at this year's ESPYs and his acceptance speech went viral.

Coach Mendez is also Perrino's hero.

The two spent some time together this week thanks to Miracle Flights.

The non-profit typically transports kids to different cities for medical treatment, free of cost to families. But this flight was an exception; a chance for a kid to meet his idol.

Besides a passion for sports, Coach Mendez and Perrino share something else in common.

They both suffer from a rare genetic disorder called TAR syndrome. Born without arms or knees, most babies with the condition don't live past past birth.

But here's Perrino at 16-years-old and Coach Mendez at age 31.

"You know, if coach could do it, I mean, I can do it to, you know," Perrino said while discussing his dreams of one day becoming a head basketball coach. "You just [need to] have a positive mindset."

Mike Brown, CEO of Miracle Flights, helped arranged this meeting.

"Here's a young man that looks around and doesn't see anybody that looks like him [and] is doing what he wants to do, except for one person in the entire country, and that's Coach Rob Mendez," Brown said.

s if the meeting wasn't special enough, during their time together, Coach Mendez invited Perrino to attend next year's ESPYs with.

Who says Perrino can't? Definitely not Coach Mendez.

"You gotta be tough at the right time. You gotta be caring and also just be yourself too," Mendez said. "I can see you're a good person."