‘Miracles can and do happen:’ Muscatine boy defies the odds

A Muscatine boy earned a shot at a prestigious soccer program after defying the odds with health complications since birth.
Published: Nov. 5, 2023 at 4:50 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 6, 2023 at 10:03 AM CST
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MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) – A Muscatine boy earned a shot at a prestigious soccer program after defying the odds with health complications since birth.

Noel Palacios recently turned 9. He was born prematurely at only 33 weeks. From the start, his parents knew their son would be facing complications.

“His heart accelerated to over 200 bpm, actually, to the point that it worked overtime,” said Nelson Palacios. “It just suddenly stopped.”

“I was in tears,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, Noel’s mom. “I said no, this cannot be happening and it cannot be happening. This is my baby. I want him. This is my baby, I had just had him, I was in tears. I was devastated.”

The doctors at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital did all they could and finally, Noel’s heart was beating again.

“Out of nowhere, they’re like, you know, his heart’s back,” said Yvonne. “I said ‘what’ they’re like, ‘he’s breathing again.’ Oh my God, that moment, I just dropped to my knees and again I said, ‘you know what, thank you everybody for doing this for my son.’”

Noel was given several medications to help strengthen his heart and lungs as they weren’t completely developed, and the Palacios needed to be careful with him at all times.

Just after turning 2, Noel began to have decaying teeth. As his parents did everything to make sure he was fine, Noel underwent another surgery to have his teeth removed.

“Even with that, little by little, he’s getting stronger and stronger and stronger, and overcome everything,” said Nelson.

Noel started to develop asthma and would require more medications and an inhaler. It was until a couple of years ago that Noel began to develop a love for soccer. Eager, the Palacios signed him up with their local soccer club in Muscatine, the Pearl City Soccer Club.

“I found a paper for rec league for Pearl City,” said Pearl City Soccer Club striker, Noel Palacios. So, I asked my dad if I could join, and he said ‘yeah’. Then I started from there and then I started like scoring a bunch of goals against every single team.”

Noel did well and the club saw potential in him and offered him a roster spot on their traveling team.

“He’s a kid that’s definitely passionate about the sport,” said Pearl City Soccer Club Director of Coaching Walton Ponce. “He wants to be here all the time and scores a lot of goals for us with our U10 boys’ group and just a lot of fun to have him around.

As Noel was doing well on the pitch, perennial soccer powerhouse, Real Madrid hosted a soccer camp in Des Moines. After the session, only a few athletes were chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to study at the Academia de Futbol in Madrid, Spain next year. Noel was chosen.

“I say like, ‘If miracles can happen, and they do happen.’ And I’m just so glad to have the chance to have a second chance to live and go to Madrid.”

Noel and his family will be flying out to Real Madrid in Spain next year, where he will have a chance to study, learn, and practice with some of the greatest soccer players on the pitch right now. Here is a gofundme link to help cover some of the costs of Noel’s trip.

Noel and his team have played 13 games into their season, and Noel currently has 37 goals.