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Philadelphia Eagles fans share emotional reunion, connected by an act of kindness

How a sign language conversation at an Eagles game led to a lifelong friendship
How a sign language conversation at an Eagles game led to a lifelong friendship 02:20

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A group of Philadelphia Eagles fans shared an emotional reunion Sunday afternoon, 10 months after meeting at Super Bowl LVII. 

"The best word's probably overwhelming. It's a great group of people," said Rick Santiago of Langhorne about seeing Kellirae Cox's family again. 

Santiago was sitting in the row in front of Cox at the big game and struck up a conversation. Her mom Denise and aunt Suzanne McDonald were there, too. 

"He was just an outgoing, funny guy, and it was toward the end of the game. And him and KelIirae just had a blast, even though there was a language barrier," said Kellirae's mom Denise Cox.

There was a language barrier because Kellirae, who was born with an unknown syndrome, was deaf. Santiago practiced sign language to communicate with her.  

"He didn't see Kellirae as disabled. I mean, he didn't look at Kellirae and see a trach or anything like that. He just saw her as a person," said Kellirae's aunt Suzanne McDonald, who was also at the game.

Just five months later, Kellirae died from melanoma at age 22. In her honor, her family flew in from California for Sunday's Eagles-49ers game

Kellirae Cox and Rick Santiago met at the Super Bowl. Suzanne McDonald

They wanted Santiago to go with them, but they never got his name or number. Kellirae's aunt posted on Facebook asking for help to track him down. 

"I think it was like 12,000 people responded and [the post got]15,000 shares, and they said they found him in under eight minutes," McDonald said. 

The two sides met up to tailgate outside Lincoln Financial Field.

There was just one problem – Santiago didn't have tickets to the game. 

But another Eagles fan who saw the viral post stepped up, giving two tickets to Santiago and his wife. 

"Wouldn't allow me to do anything," Santiago said of the fan. "He really wanted us to be able to embrace this moment." 

These Eagles fans are now lifelong friends.

"I think after today, you know, we might make this a yearly thing in remembrance of Kellirae," Santiago said.

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