If you have never met Eric Piburn, you may be startled by his energetic personality. Most days, the 10-year old can’t contain his excitement.
He just has a zest for life that his little heart can barely contain.
Imagine, then, that his little heart’s desire finally came true. It’s a wonder he didn’t fly right out of his wheelchair Saturday afternoon at The Villages when one of his favorite TV stars wrapped him up in a giant, warm hug.
“Vanna!” he shouted.
Vanna White, who has been a beloved mainstay on one of America’s most highly-viewed gameshows, Wheel of Fortune, for over three decades, was finally standing in front of Eric. You couldn’t see his smile because of a protective paper mask that was covering his mouth to keep out the germs, but you could see the joy in his eyes.
“We met via satellite, what, last January, and here we are meeting in person and it’s so, so special to me,” said White. “(It’s) one of the highlights.”
For ten minutes the two bonded over Wheel of Fortune stories. Eric showed off his Vanna White talking toy and the TV star smiled with delight.
Eric, who needs a heart and double-lung transplant, was too sick to attend school with other children for fear of germs. His parents helped teach him his letters and numbers by watching Vanna on the gameshow.
It’s a bond that goes beyond a TV show.
“Millions of people do watch our show and you do forget who all is watching,” he said. “You never know what kind of impact you’ll make on them.”
Eric and Vanna parted after a hug and a few photos and some new memories to share. Vanna was in town to promote a new Florida Lottery game but hit the jackpot with her new biggest fan.
“This is an experience I will always remember.”