For the uninitiated, the “My Wish” series is the result of a yearly collaboration between ESPN and Make-A-Wish that captures the power of a wish experience by highlighting four or five of the sports related wishes granted by Make-A-Wish. Previous years have featured LeBron James, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Hawk and Robert Griffin III to name a few. Each summer, ESPN showcases the life-changing wishes on its flagship program, SportsCenter. In fact, this year’s series will take place throughout this next week (beginning Sunday, July 20) and features four new wishes plus a series recap.
For the wish families selected, the opportunity to appear on ESPN – a favorite channel for many of the sports enthusiast wish kids – is a thrilling enhancement to the wish granting process. It adds another layer of depth to an already once-in-a-lifetime experience. The filming begins at the family’s home, before the wish takes place. The purpose of the initial filming is to get a sense of the family’s day-to-day life, including separate interviews with each wish parent (Insider Note: Each interview requires around an hour of setup to make slight adjustments to the camera angle, lighting and background.).
The interviews tend to resemble an emotional rollercoaster. Chris expertly winds through the ups and downs, the highs and lows and everything in between that the family has gone through while dealing with a child fighting a life-threatening medical condition. He delivers his questions with a gentle, caring demeanor, which allows the parents to feel comfortable and respond authentically. Some parents maintain a calm, stoic manner. Others wear their emotions on their sleeves. Regardless, one question in particular seemed to get more of an emotional response than almost any other. And here’s the big twist…it was not a question tied to the difficult moments during the wish kid’s medical treatment.
“Why does your child deserve this wish?”
This question, so simple in nature, generated an almost instantaneous rush of emotions; and it proved to me the value of wish granting. Parents swell with a mixture of pride and love when they think about how much their child has persevered through; often with more strength and resilience than most adults. Tears of happiness tend to ensue at the thought of their child’s one, true wish being granted. For me, the parents’ reaction provides genuine insight into the emotional and physical toll of the child’s illness on the whole family. The wish represents a rare infusion of positivity in an otherwise gloomy situation, and the parents’ reaction is telling of just how important and needed that injection of positivity is. My only thought when I watched parent after parent melt upon hearing the question was, “And the wish hasn’t even been granted yet.”
Tune in to ESPN’s SportsCenter beginning Sunday, July 20, to watch the incredible journey of four wish kids as their once-in-a-lifetime wish is granted by Make-A-Wish.