But at the same time, Sam is not an everyday man. On one very important day, he was the shining example of a sanitation engineer for 6-year-old Ethan, a child with cystic fibrosis who is more in love with garbage trucks than anything else in the world. And in that moment, Sam became extraordinary.
“I’m gonna try not to cry,” Sam commented as he waited in anticipation for Ethan’s wish. He had never dreamed that he would be a perfect match for a wish kid, but now that it was happening, he hoped to witness Ethan’s “pure joy.” And when Ethan finally hopped into the cabin of the garbage truck, Sam got just what he hoped for. The pair rode around a route of carefully chosen stops so that Ethan could experience every part of cleaning the city, and everyone could tell from his radiant smile that Ethan was having the time of his life.
Though many wishes “to be” are unique like Ethan’s wish to be a garbage man, it is also true that certain professions tend to lend themselves to wish granting. Make-A-Wish’s very first wish happened back in 1980 when the Arizona Department of Public Safety made Chris Greicius a police officer for a day. Ever since then, we’ve seen an ongoing interest from wish kids to be in uniform, whether as police, firefighters or military personnel.
Take 7-year-old William, for instance, who wished to be an American Airlines pilot. Due to his congenital heart defect, he is unlikely to fly professionally in the future. Yet, William has a certain spark for aviation, and upon seeing his passion, Captain Jim “could identify with him immediately.” He just knew that he had to help William’s wish come true.
To make this a reality, Jim assembled a group of over 250 people to show William every piece of the pilot experience, from opening airplane doors to extinguishing emergency fires to pushing the planes back from the jetway. He asserts that showing William the ropes is “the coolest thing I've done in my 26 years at American Airlines.”
Another equally popular subset of wishes are what I like to call the “glam wishes,” or wishes to be a performer in front of an audience, like celebrities, actors or dancers. Modeling wishes are particularly in demand because they give wish kids an opportunity to feel confident in their own bodies again.
Madi is one of many wish kids who have wished for a professional modeling portfolio. In order for that to happen, she needed an entire team of hair stylists, makeup artists and photographers to help her glam it up, and they were more than happy to assist her. After several hours of preparation, including a stop at a jewelry store and the creation of a whole new host of looks, Madi posed for her photo shoot. The end result was a beautiful series of pictures she will treasure moving forward.
An important part of Madi’s motivation for the wish was her complicated relationship with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Madi’s mom, Farnaz, shares that after the wish, “Madi was able to see herself as beautiful, healthy and ‘normal,’ not just a kid with cancer who people felt sorry for.” Since her photo shoot, Madi has even developed the confidence to go to school without her wig.
All of these wish granters have something in common – they are just people going about their day-to-day lives who took a moment to do what they normally do, but this time, to help a child fighting a serious illness. No matter what your specialization, there is a wish kid out there who needs your expertise to make their wish come true. Any person can be a wish granter, and every person has something to give.
Watch for more Wish Nation posts about Everyday People Granting Extraordinary Wishes!