GIBSONVILLE, NC – If you’ve watched WFMY News 2 in the last week or so, you might have seen several commercials promoting the upcoming Final Four Match-Up between Carolina and Oregon.
Shot throughout the city of Greensboro, the commercial features several fans showing their dedication to the Tar Heels.
One fan, Michael Patrick was especially enthusiastic. And as it turns out, there’s story behind his passion for the team.
“When I was born I had two open heart surgeries,” said Patrick. “It runs in my veins. Literally.”
His mom, Diana Henderson explained, “The oxygen and the blood was flowing through properly, so he was actually a blue baby.”
Henderson didn’t even have a chance to name her new baby, before he was taken to UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill.
“They performed the first open-heart surgery when I was three days old,” said Patrick.
The second surgery was performed when he was nine-months-old.
“I’m here through the Grace of God, but the Lord gave them the talents and knowledge to be able to fix me and keep me here. So, that’s why passion burns deep for the North Carolina Tar Heels,” explained Patrick.
The 37-year-old called his doctor and staff at the hospital his second family.
“Dr. William Henry was my doctor and he was fresh out of college. Graduated from the University of Chapel Hill. I was his first open-heart surgery and I’m still here because of him.”
Henderson said Dr. Henry gave Patrick a 50/50 shot of living through the surgery. She said once he made it through the surgeries, she knew he would grow up to be a Tar Heels fan.
“Every time we would go down to Chapel Hill for a check-up and everything and his doctor, I mean everybody was just so loving and so kind to him and it just did something to him.”
Patrick said he shed tears in 2016, when the Tar Heels lost in the final seconds to Villanova. But, this year and every year for the rest of his life, he will scream and cheer for the Tar Heels, win or lose.
“I got that Carolina blue in my heart. I got Carolina family love in my heart and I’m going to rep them until I’m dead. Carolina born, Carolina bred and I’m gonna be a Tar Heel ‘til I’m dead.”