Piloting a large aircraft is a thrill for even the most experienced aviator. But when it’s your first time in the cockpit like wish kid Eric, the excitement is palpable.
In the fall of 2015, Eric was an outgoing and active high school senior about to embark on his final year on the competition cheer squad. Just when he should have been making college plans, Eric had to put his future on hold for a new battle.
Diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia in November 2015, Eric’s new plan focused on fighting cancer. After several rounds of chemo at Sunrise Hospital, Eric ultimately needed a bone marrow transplant, turning to his older sister, Abigail, who became a donor to help save his life.
Now in successful remission and with the support of his family, Eric began to think about the future and selecting his wish. He wanted his wish to positively impact the rest of his life so, reflecting on his mentors, Eric chose to honor his grandfather and use his wish to chart a path for his future.
Eric’s grandfather was a pilot during World War II and a huge inspiration growing up. Though his grandfather passed from cancer just one month before Eric’s own diagnosis, he looked back on their special bond and decided he wanted to continue in his grandfather’s aviation footsteps. Eric wished to be a pilot and begin training to obtain his pilot’s license.
Make-A-Wish® Southern Nevada turned to partners at Allegiant Air and the Avenger Flight Group (AFG) to give lift to Eric’s wish. For Eric’s wish reveal, AFG put Eric in the captain’s seat of their state-of-the-art flight simulator. Pilots from Allegiant guided Eric from takeoff to landing of a commercial aircraft as his family cheered him on from the passenger seats. And with his first flight under his belt, Eric was made an honorary first officer and presented with the official uniform of any good pilot – authentic commercial pilot wings and Ray Ban aviators!
“Maybe I can even make a career out of this!” said Eric, who is currently studying nursing.
Now attending Truckee Meadows Community College, Eric will pursue his dream of achieving his solo license with flight lessons at the Advanced Aviation flight school in Reno which generously donated to make Eric’s wish come true. Eric says he’s proud of how far he’s come after fighting cancer, and “I’m not going to let it get in the way of doing the things I want to do.”
The community truly came together to make all of this possible for Eric. “I’m thankful for Make-A-Wish. They helped me a lot.” It was our pleasure, Eric, we can’t wait to hear about your first flight!
If you’d like to be part of helping wishes like Eric’s come true, click here.