HOBART — Three hours northwest of Lucas Oil Stadium, Hobart native Elias Otero represents the Colts fandom.
Hobart, Indiana is considered Bears country, but Otero has been a Horsehoe fan for years. Now, he is known as one of LUCHA BLUE. Elias and his son Eli wear handmade luchador masks from Mexico in honor of pro wrestler Rey Mysterio.
“He’s always been an underdog of sports and has always found a way,” said Elias. “That’s how we are, we always find a way.”
The Oteros relate to that underdog story. Eli was born with Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the liver, and diagnosed as a baby. Their insurance was not accepted in Chicago hospitals, so the family sought treatment at Riley.
“We were back and forth from Indianapolis for the first five years of his life,” said Elias. “As he got older and being diagnosed so young, we were able to do more.”
Eli received different kinds of experimental treatments and top of the line care, but also developed his own love of the Colts.
Throughout his treatment, Elias would take Eli and the rest of the family to Colts community events. After appointments, the Otero family would go to the Colts pro shop to get a hat. With more than 100 hats in their collection, Elias and Eli finally made it to a game in 2018. After a successful liver transplant in 2019, the Oteros got their new luchador masks.
“It brought out his personality being disfigured,” said Elias. “He had his mask and gloves on. He was interacting with the kids and felt some type of belonging.”
Their fandom and Elias’ commitment to raising awareness for Donate Life Indiana and Alagille syndrome caught the Colts’ attention. Elias earned the Horseshoe’s nomination for the 2021 Fan of the Year, and will go up against superfans from each team.
“We got a knock at the door and lo and behold, it’s a representative for the Colts, Blue, and the cheerleaders all in Hobart,” said Elias. “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve won already, but to be named the NFL Fan of the Year would be wonderful.”
The Oteros will attend the NFL Honors in February for the awards ceremony. Both Elias and Eli agree, those three hour drives to Lucas Oil are worth it.