Utah student surprised with Super Bowl tickets after medical battle, brain surgery

Feb 11, 2023, 11:20 PM | Updated: Feb 12, 2023, 1:08 pm

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — A Utah Valley University student is going to Super Bowl LVII after being surprised with tickets after a medical battle involving a seizure, a rare diagnosis, and brain surgery.

Tami Zerilli told her son Trevor Zerilli, 23, that he was going to Phoenix, Arizona, for a follow-up appointment one year after he had surgery there. He had stayed at the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

When he got there, representatives from DIRECTV showed up with gifts, saying: “The appointment’s not going to happen today. That’s not why you’re in town. You’re actually in town because you have four tickets to the Super Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona!”

“My jaw really dropped,” Trevor Zerilli recalled. “I don’t even remember what I said. I was stunned.”

Trevor and his family enjoying the pre-events at the Super Bowl. (Courtesy: Zerilli family) Trevor and his family enjoying the pre-events at the Super Bowl. (Courtesy: Zerilli family) Trevor and his family enjoying the pre-events at the Super Bowl. (Courtesy: Zerilli family) Trevor and his family enjoying the pre-events at the Super Bowl. (Courtesy: Zerilli family) Trevor and his family enjoying the pre-events at the Super Bowl. (Courtesy: Zerilli family)

The surprise came after a rough couple of years. In 2021, Trevor had a seizure while on the phone with his mom.

“I could hear him seizing and hitting everything inside of his car,” Tami said, “and that lasted for about 40 seconds. Then, it was just dead silent.”

That led to a diagnosis of AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the spine. The family found a surgeon who performed a miracle, Tami said.

Trevor had a full recovery.

Trevor coming back home after his brain surgery. (Courtesy: Zerilli family)

Tami had a hard time keeping the secret after she got the call on Monday about the last-minute tickets. When her son arrived in Phoenix, he called her about the decorations and people at the airport.

“He’s going into such detail, and he’s so excited by it that I had to mute myself because I was laughing. I was really laughing. He was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Mom, the people here are really into this Super Bowl. It’s amazing,’” Tami said.

It wasn’t until the next day that Trevor finally found out about the surprise, which came with the VIP treatment and activities all weekend for him, along with his mom, dad, and little brother.

The UVU student is on track to graduate from his pre-med program in 2026.


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Utah student surprised with Super Bowl tickets after medical battle, brain surgery