Six years ago, my teenage son Michael had a tonsillectomy; as his tonsils were taken out, the doctors noticed both were enlarged—one quite severely. After a biopsy, Michael was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. One can’t imagine how this impacted my son—and our family—until faced with this frightening reality. As he battled this illness that would send him into bouts of severe sickness, we were referred to Make-A-Wish.
Soon, Michael’s Wish Granters (a team of two volunteers tasked with finding out what Michael’s wish would be) met him at our home. This conversation of discovering what he would wish for changed the emotional landscape and gave him something to look forward to in the future. It took some time for Michael to determine what he’d wish for, and I shouldn’t have been surprised by the end game: he wished to spend time with his best friend in Pocatello, Idaho, having a “normal” summer.
Before his wish trip in the summer of 2011, I knew that the people at Make-A-Wish and the community of supporters were focused on a mission that brought joy to the lives of the children they serve. What we couldn’t have been prepared for is the kindness of complete strangers throughout his wish experience. From the local ice cream shop owner in Idaho that opened her store early (complete with custom window paint to welcome Michael as he learned how to make his favorite shake), to the ski mountain that opened its chair lifts for our family and that of Michael’s best friend’s family so we could have a mountain-top picnic, we were absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness of complete strangers.
If you’d asked Michael about his wish, his perspective was that of a typical teenager: “Yo, it was fun.” What that translates to was an incredible time spent relaxing and not thinking about his illness. What’s even more amazing is how it not only impacted his life, but that of my own and his two siblings. His wish trip restored my daughter’s faith in humanity, from interacting with both the Make-A-Wish team and complete strangers. We truly experienced good people doing nice things for others.
After Michael’s wish, we participated in our first Walk For Wishes in 2012. It was like an “a-ha” moment—thousands of wonderful people all came together to raise the money to make wishes like
Michael’s come true. Our family has participated almost every year since then. This year, I was approached to be the team captain for the Allegiant team, which was 150 members strong and has grown year over year! I was thrilled to once again be a part of an event that does so much for children in Southern Nevada.
Walk For Wishes truly does make a difference in the lives of local Wish Kids. Seeing all the people there, as well as the wish parade—where a large group of community members were brought on stage to show how many people are behind one wish coming true—is so powerful. Being able to visualize the whole picture of an entire wish was amazing. As a Wish Mom, I’m extremely proud of the role Allegiant—and the entire community—plays to make wishes come true. My son Michael is now a healthy 19-year-old, who is pursuing his goal to become and electrical engineer. I walk—so kids like Michael—can wish.