When Ethan Payne met Luke Bryan for the first time, he was only 13. Payne is 17 years old now, and has a brand new song about what happened that day he met Bryan.
Because it wasn’t just some random meet-and-greet situation. It was Payne’s official wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation coming true.
“I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 18 months old,” Payne told CMT.com. “Many children with life-threatening illnesses like myself are granted wishes through the Foundation. When the foundation came to me, I knew what my request was going to be.
“So within a few weeks, they told me that I was going to Dallas, Texas to see Luke in concert. When I got to the concert that evening on October 22, 2016, I had backstage passes and meet and greet tickets. I went into the meet and greet and waited for my turn to meet him. I brought my guitar for him to sign. Luke came over and asked me what I had in the case and I told him it was my guitar that I wanted him to sign. I proceeded to pull out my guitar and played ’Do I,’ which is still my favorite song of his to this day. After that, he asked would I like to play that song on stage in front of 50,000 people and I told him, ’Yes sir.’
“After our performance on stage, he gifted me with the guitar of his that I played that night. I haven’t put it down since that night.”
Every day is a different day with his progressive, genetic disease, Payne explained, and he pushes himself through many of them. “I feel as though my singing has improved my lung function over the past for or five years. Don’t get me wrong, I do have complications that arise. I had to realize that I have to take care of myself by getting the rest I need. Luckily I’ve only had to be hospitalized once in the last year. My mom, who is a nurse, helps me to manage my disease. I’m very strong-willed and determined. Music is my life,” he added. “It’s my passion.
“I’m not gonna let my disease get in the way of fulfilling my dreams and I encourage others to do the same.”
Here’s Payne’s song, “Luke’s Guitar”:
The inspiration for Make-A-Wish began 40 years ago when one sick little boy wanted to be a police officer. Since that first wish came true, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 300,000 life-changing wishes.