WKOW (HARTFORD)-- As Quinn Meinerz's fame grew, so did a fundraiser for his former coach's daughter who is battling a rare disease.
Meinerz and Alaina Shelsta's friendship goes back five years, starting at the 2017 high school football all-star game. They share in this similarity.
"We both want to do our best in everything that we do," Alaina said.
Meinerz took time to learn about Alaina's fight with GLUT1 deficiency syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder that disrupts the delivery of glucose to the brain. Alaina is one of 300 people in the world with this disease.
"So it causes movement disorders, cognitive delays, and seizures," Alaina's Dad and Meinerz's Former Coach Paul Shelsta said.
Through it all, Alaina is the one handing out hugs to everyone else.
"I just always have this really positive attitude that just keeps me going," Alaina said.
At her last hospital stay in March, Alaina admitted that her smile was hard to come by, but a special text she got, brought it right back.
"As soon as Quinn texted her, I wish you would've seen her eyes how they just like brightened up," Alaina's Mom Chris Shelsta said.
For a while now, Meinerz has been wanting to help bring awareness to this rare disease and help support the family. But, he didn't have the platform to do so, until he did, at the senior bowl.
"The senior bowl, they have a little yellow sticker that they put on the helmet," Paul said. "He asked permission to put Alaina's name on it, and right away I broke down because this is Quinn's time, it's the day of the game, and he is thinking about my situation."
A couple of days later, Quinn decided to create a shirt with all the proceeds going to the Shelsta family through the fundraiser 'Hugs 4 Alaina'. https://www.gofundme.com/f/hugs4alaina?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer
"To be able to help that family out because they have done so much for the community is amazing," Meinerz said. "The sales have already been insane."
On draft night with the whole world watching as the Denver Broncos drafted Meinerz with the 98th overall pick, his entire family was seen on national television wearing the shirts.
"He definitely deserves all that is happening to him right now because he is just an amazing person," Alaina said.
"You know, he's known for his big gut, but my gosh he's got such a bigger heart," Chris said.
With such high demand, Quinn extended the link for the t-shirts: