KNOXVILLE (WATE) – An 11-year-old girl from Morristown got the surprise of her life Monday. Riley Ripley wrote a letter to her hero UT quarterback Joshua Dobbs telling him how he inspired her to be brave. They both have a condition called alopecia that causes hair loss. She said her dream would be to meet him.
Riley has more in common with Dobbs than just a love of UT football.
“He’s kind of famous and he has the same thing I have and it’s kind of cool,” said Riley.
She wrote him aletter asking about alopecia. She wrote, “When I was younger I had little bald splotches which wasn’t a big deal until a few years ago when I had to start getting little shots in each splotch.”Previous story: Joshua Dobbs’ letter to Morristown 5th grader inspires her to be brave
Her hero Joshua Dobbs responded writing, “I do not worry if other people make fun of me because having alopecia is something I can’t control.”
His words were inspiring and helped her to be brave. “He kept me from being so nervous. My first days I would go to school when my mom had shaved my head,” said Riley.
Dobbs made her dreams come true Monday as the two met. Dobbs signed hats and took pictures, but the most special thing was he gave Riley his worn out band right off his wrist.
“I’m going to pick this one. Be relentless. This will be our motto. You remember this,” said Dobbs.
Dobbs told her about losing some of his hair in the third grade too, but emphasized she can do anything with hard work. It was a message that was loud and clear.
“There’s a lot of things you can do if you just put your mind to it,” said Riley.
Dobbs said he wanted to meet Riley because, “I kind of related to her and what she’s going through so anything I could do to make her day, make anyone’s day, I try to reach out.”
It was a wonderful day Riley says she will always remember. Dobbs says he was thankful for the opportunity to meet Riley. He says sometimes people don’t understand the condition and may make fun, but that is life and you have to ignore those people. Riley says meeting Dobbs was even better than she could have imagined.