Dundalk teen with brain cancer becomes a Raven for a day

With a signed contract in hand and a jersey bearing his name, 16-year-old Frankie Collurafici called plays for the Ravens practice squad, tossed passes to tight end Mark Andrews and held the football for Justin Tucker to drill field goals on a chilly Friday at the team’s practice field.

For one day, Collurafici was a Raven.

As the Dundalk teen battles brain cancer, the Ravens, in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, granted his wish to become a member of the team earlier this month.

The Ravens have previously partnered with the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a national organization that works to grant the wishes of children with critical illnesses. Collurafici’s wish was the fourth the team made a reality this year.

A number of young fans are happy just to meet players, said Heather Darney, the Ravens’ community relations director. “Frankie was different in that his wish was to be a Baltimore Raven,” she said.

“We definitely try to help however we can,” Darney said. “If that’s his wish, we really wanted to make sure we could fulfill that to the best of our potential.”

Collurafici found out his hope to join the team would be fulfilled at a Nov. 17 Make-A-Wish Foundation gala, where the organization played a video greeting from coach John Harbaugh for Collurafici.

“I’ve got some exciting news: We just drafted you,” Harbaugh said in the video. “We’ve made you our No. 1 pick and you are now a member of the Baltimore Ravens. We’re expecting you here next week for practice — we’ll put you in there with our offense and with our defense and see what you have.”

Collurafici turned out for practice Nov. 23. The Ravens outfitted him with a locker, jersey (No. 19) and gear, and he bonded with players while practicing alongside them.

“They just welcomed Frankie right in as one of their own,” Darney said.

And on Nov. 25, at the Ravens’ home game against the Oakland Raiders, the team introduced Collurafici as an honorary Raven. Supported by his walker, he emerged from the smoke-filled tunnel and took the field.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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