EDMONTON – Amanda Renneberg was undoubtedly the envy of thousands of Justin Timberlake fans after his Jan. 13 concert in Edmonton. Not only did the 27-year-old Sherwood Park woman get a special shout-out from the pop star, but she also had the meeting of her dreams with him before the show.
Global News first spoke to Renneberg in December, after she and her boyfriend, Derek Jones, started an online campaign to help Renneberg get her wish of meeting Timberlake. She explained then that his music inspires her and gives her the motivation to keep fighting her rare neuro-muscular disorder, Friedreich’s Ataxia.
A few days later, the unexpected happened.
“He phoned me! It was so surreal to have my JT ringtone ring, and it was him,” Renneberg recalled, excitedly. “I knew the second he asked for Amanda that it was his voice. I couldn’t believe it.”
Local businessman Fazman Patel had seen Renneberg’s story on Global News and reached out to a contact he had on Timberlake’s team, which set things in motion.
Timberlake told Renneberg during their phone conversation that he was excited to meet her in person. That moment finally arrived before Monday’s sold-out show.
READ MORE: Justin Timberlake rocks Edmonton
She and her boyfriend met JT and his wife Jessica Biel in the VIP lounge at Rexall Place.
“I couldn’t believe he was standing right in front of me. My mouth just about dropped on the floor,” Renneberg said.
The singer gave her a big hug, and chatted with the pair for about 20 minutes.
He also fulfilled a special request.
“I don’t really like my wheelchair in pictures so much because it’s kind of a new thing to me. And I just wanted him to pick me up,” Renneberg explained.
Her boyfriend admits Timberlake seemed a little surprised by the request at first, but happily obliged.
“You can see the facial expression when he picks Amanda up that he thought it was hilarious that that’s what she wanted – but why not? He thought it was cool.”
After the meeting, the couple was led to a VIP table right beside the stage next to Timberlake’s mother. During the show, Renneberg had another unforgettable moment, when Timberlake gave her a shout-out in front of his 14,500 fans.
“I got my new friend in the house. Her name is Amanda,” Timberlake said between songs. “I got to meet her this afternoon. I love you, sweetheart.”
She got to chat with Timberlake once more after the show, and went home with a bag full of exclusive memorabilia.
Timberlake also invited her and her boyfriend for a second night of VIP treatment Tuesday night.
Since then, Renneberg’s story has attracted international attention. News outlets – even entertainment blogs – have covered her experience with Timberlake, as well as her battle with Friedreich’s Ataxia.
In a statement on Jan. 23, the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance wrote: “We are grateful to everyone involved for the unprecedented awareness raised for Friedreich’s Ataxia: to Amanda for being a dynamic proponent of FA awareness and for dreaming big; to Global Edmonton for their comprehensive and compelling coverage of Amanda’s story; and to Fazman Patel and Justin Timberlake not only for reaching out to raise Amanda’s spirits, but also uplifting an entire rare disease community.”
Watch below: Renneberg’s story attracts international attention
For Renneberg, the whole experience has been surreal.
“I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for making a small town girl’s dream come true.”
With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News