A 14-year-old Powell River, B.C., boy facing his fourth open heart surgery saw a dream come true — meeting music superstar and teen heart-throb Justin Bieber.
Derek Russell has Down syndrome and is set to undergo his fourth open-heart surgery — one he might not survive, according to his mother.
Following a vigorous Twitter campaign by his family and friends, Russell received a call Wednesday afternoon promising he could meet the pop superstar before his concert in downtown Vancouver.
After taking a limo ride to the show at Rogers Arena, Russell and his family met the Canadian pop sensation backstage. A picture of the meeting was posted Thursday morning on his website Bieberfever.com.
Music provides comfort
Before the meeting, Russell's mother Allison Metzner told CBC News her son takes comfort in Bieber's music.
"I think it just kind of takes him away — he gets in the groove and he forgets about what is going on in his life," she said.
"I like Justin Bieber," Russell told CBC News. "He is nice and he is my buddy."
While meeting Bieber was a dream come true for Russell, Metzner believes her son will take it all in stride.
"I just think Derek would think [Bieber is] like the guy next door. He doesn't get the magnitude of this whole thing," Metzner said.
"He'd be excited but he'd be like, 'Hey buddy.' I don't think he'd completely come unglued … and I think it would be a really positive experience for him."
As Russell prepares for more time in the hospital, Metzner said it's comforting to know he'll always remember the day he got to meet his idol.