The story of Levi, the Boy who thrilled everyone after his encounter with Messi

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By Marco Echevarria

He was diagnosed with six months to live and at 16 he was able to meet his great idol, Lionel Messi. CANCHA shared with him one day and witnessed a story of faith and unwavering will.

Digital and traditional media can go hand in hand. Social media has become an excellent space for spreading information quickly and effectively. While television communication, for example, increases the chances of the message being viewed and heard by millions of people. On the other hand, journalism plays a fundamental role in helping to give voice to a society free to express its opinions and ideas. The story of the young Levi Sandoval, who fulfilled his dream of meeting Lionel Messi a few days ago in the friendly El Salvador against Inter Miami, is an effective communication strategy.

A few days after the international game in San Salvador, Dulce María Sandoval, Levi’s mother, shared a video through Facebook, where she announced her 16-year-old son’s desire to share a while with the world champion and to give a special gift to Messi and his family (to Antonella, in addition to his sons Thiago, Mateo and Ciro): artisanal bracelets with everyone’s name.

The recording had many reproductions in a short time and through friendships was observed by the communicator Mauricio Rivas, who contributed his grain of sand on his digital platforms (Facebook and YouTube) so that the words will not take the wind and Levi’s longings will come true. At the international level, Telemundo’s sports presenter, Alejandro Navarro, prepared a note to Levi. Then the news echoed in other prestigious media, including El Diario de Hoy.

To the joy of the teenager and his entire family, Meta Show Entertainment, the promoter who brought Inter Miami to El Salvador, contacted Levi, who accompanied Messi in the protocol acts of the game last January 19 at the Cuscatlán Stadium. My parents got excited for me. They had been told he was going out with a player, but they didn’t know which one. For me it was a surprise because I didn’t know which player I was going to touch either. They just told me I was going out on the court. I told Messi it was nice to meet him and he told me, just like that. I felt so much joy. I was nervous, but it was a nice experience. I’m speechless. I hardly slept with the emotion. The night before the game I slept for a short time because they took me to the team. Everyone running behind the bus. On the court I couldn’t deliver the bracelets because they didn’t let us wear anything and the excitement I was forgotten, said Levi, who also had the opportunity to take a photo with Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Luis Suárez, who signed him a T-shirt on his visit to the Inter Miami concentration hotel. Another valuable memory of Levi is a ball autographed by Messi.

On a pedestal made by his father, Levi has in the middle of his room the ball autographed by Messi.

Levi saw the friendly in the Platea del Cuscatlán sector next to his parents. He did not hide that he lived the duel with his divided heart between his country and the Major League Soccer team (MLS), where he plays his childhood idol. Like the entire Stadium, the first time I was supporting Inter Miami and the second to the Select. The game was very exciting. They played well the boys (referring to La Selecta). My message would be for them to keep fighting for their dreams. The limitations ourselves put in our minds, said Levi, who has been fighting the inadequacy of growth since he was born.

Are we very grateful as a family with Meta Show Entertainment. They were very nice to us. I know they did everything they could to fulfill Levi’s dream. They were very happy, I even heard in videos where they were yelling at him, let’s go, Levi. The dream was fulfilled when Messi held his hand. If they can keep doing that to fulfill dreams for more children it’s rewarding and it’s priceless. “God will reward them,” Levi’s mother said, Sweet.

Are we very grateful to Meta Show Entertainmen and journalists. They took that goal of being able to upload Levi’s video to social media. They’ve been very nice to us. It was not in our plans to see the game, but we also realized the dream of seeing the game where the company placed us, which was one of the most expensive places, recognized Levi’s father, Julio Melara.

Levi, a fighter

Levi’s parents, Dulce (42 years old) and Julio (52 years old), explained to CANCHA two moments of their son’s difficulty and how Levi’s admiration for Lionel Messi originated.

When Levi was born, I was told that I would only be able to live six months and now he is 16 years old, thank God. We were told he had Russell-Silver syndrome (RSS), a genetic disorder characterized by low birth size and low weight. Apart from that, one of the characteristics of this syndrome is that he has shortening on the left part of his body. Use a lift in the left shoe. When Levi was two years old, he was given bacterial meningitis, which is an infection in the brain’s layer. At that moment I thought he wasn’t going to live anymore. It was a difficult situation. However, God is so good to us and to him, that Levi was not left with sequelae. Children with normal physical conditions give them this type of disease in a coma, in a vegetative state or in the worst case they die. Levi managed to get through that stage. “For us he is a warrior,” Sweet said.

Since she was six years old, she started watching football on television. He said his favorite team was Barcelona. In a party, a narrator said that Messi had had a growth problem when he was small and that he had been taken by the Bara to apply the growth hormone to him. That’s where he mentioned, I’ve got that problem more or less, and he started his admiration. Follow Messi to the different teams he’s been in, he added.

What has been addressed to Levi’s childhood is that he is being treated like a normal child. Levi has a vulnerable condition. Care has always been on the part of her grandmother, her uncles, her mother and us. It has involved being very aware of Levi’s life. He started walking at six. Since then we have tried to get it unfolding on its own to create that self-sufficiency and that self-confidence. “The mission of us is to prepare it for life, which is hard.

Fame and treasures

Levi felt a famous person to be seen on many sides, for example, on the cover of CANCHA on Monday, January 22, 2024, holding hands with Messi. The image with the Argentine star is stuck on the wall of his room, a place decorated by T-shirts, posters, posters, flags and wigs of the favorite teams of the football world of Sandoval.

Was it a nice experience. I told all my friends and family to buy the newspaper. I was watching the videos that had uploaded. “A day we went out to the market and all the people said, look, there goes the child who went out with Messi,” the boy recalled.

The mission of us as parents is to make our son happy. His room was adapted to him depending on whether he had the opportunity to be an environment he likes. He’s a football lover. He really likes football and other sports. “That’s why Levi’s room is in those conditions,” Levi’s dad detailed.

“At Christmas I always ask you to give me football shirts. Since they don’t find my size they send them to do it,” Levi said. Photo EDH/ Francisco Rubio

In a mural he very fondly keeps the photograph taken by El Diario de Hoy along with the star of sport. Photo EDH/ Francisco Rubio

Present and future already drawn

Levi began this week’s first year of Baccalaureate with a bachelor’s degree in English at the Catholic Educational Complex, Father Mario Zanconato. Sandoval’s medium-term plan is to study the career of Public Relations and Communications at a university. He wants to be a sports narrator.

I’d like to be a sports narrator. I like Fernando Palomo. “I told my mommy that I wanted to take a picture with him, then they took me,” Levi said. He is very skilled with the ball and would have wanted to play professional football, but because of the physical limitation he has he cannot. “He says he wants to be a sports narrator,” Levi’s mom revealed.

He’s chosen what he wants to study. Our duty as parents is to support him. We know the strengths and weaknesses of our son. We know he won’t be able to make strength. Our duty is to prepare him, because he likes English is to exploit that skill he has. Also in computer science, so that you can do your job from a computer, with some language or whatever you want to do,” the lady added.

Football and religion

Every Sunday, Levi moves to the municipal court of St. Thomas to train at a football school and then fulfills the responsibilities of a teacher in the Tasmana church of Gloria Col. Forests of St. Thomas.

He has the right to have fun and participate healthy. Part of the parents we have to do is take care of our children’s hearts. We’re giving him a Christian orientation. As part of his development and intelligence, he serves in the biblical school and helps other children. That is very important for self-confidence,” said Levi’s father, Julio.

Levi comments that sometimes she goes out with her parents and people say “There goes the kid who went out with Messi.” Photo EDH/ Francisco Rubio

Memoirs of Qatar

On December 18, 2022, Argentina defeated France 4-2 in the penalty slide and won a non-hearted final. They couldn’t get the two-championship at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Levi lived through all sorts of emotions following the Albiceleste.

The defeat against Saudi Arabia really surprised me. They overturned three goals to Argentina that were legal. The match against Mexico was thrilling. Tremendous goals of Enzo Fernández and Messi. Against Poland the game was good. Against Australia a little bit easier. Against the Netherlands it was difficult, even when they left. With Croatia the match was normal and with France it was a tough final. Kylian Mbappé’s three goals made me nervous. I thought Argentina was going to lose the final, but they had a good goalkeeper, Dibu Martínez, Levi said.

With regard to his preferences at club level, Levi is a fan of FAS (El Salvador), Barcelona (Spain), Manchester City (England), Paris Saint-Germain (France), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Juventus (Italy), Milan (Italy), Newells and Boca (Argentina).

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Salvador