Marco was granted his wish to be a sports reporter in August 2008 with the generous assistance of FOX Sports and FOX Sports Supports, its charitable initiative that has supported Make-A-Wish® throughout the 2008 Major League Baseball season. Here is Marco’s story, in his own words:
From the minute I was born, I had three favorite things in life: music, movies and sports. I remember being real little, going out to my backyard with a mini baseball bat pretending I was Sammy Sosa hitting 62 home runs, even though my “outfield wall covered in ivy” was the bushes in front of my Dad’s shed. As an 8-year-old kid, all I wanted to do was play baseball and football with my friends, though as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t.
I was born with a rare disease called Prune Belly Syndrome. Prune Belly Syndrome is a disease that affects your heart, kidneys and limbs. Over the course of my first 15 years of life, I’ve had multiple surgeries. At just 15 months old, I underwent open heart surgery. Over the next three or so years, my kidney function started to rapidly decline, and as a result, I was put on dialysis at 4 years old. Six months later on May 13, 1996, I had a kidney transplant. The kidney was donated by my Dad.
I have been on medicines from Day 1 of my life and will continue to be on anti-rejection medicines for the rest of my life. I will also have to live with the fact that I have a prosthetic leg and a new one needs to be made every time I grow, which makes it difficult because I have growth deficiency issues due to the Prune Belly Syndrome and need to be on medication for this as well.
It was about this time that my family was made aware, through various doctors at Children’s Memorial Hospital and segments on TV, about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and all the life-changing things they had done for kids just like me. It was to my surprise that one day, some years later, a wish granter rang my doorbell and asked me if I had one wish, what would it be?
I thought for a few minutes, and flashed back to about six years earlier. It was Christmas morning and I had just gotten the brand new Madden game for Playstation and rushed up to my room to go play. A few hours went by, and my parents were really confused because they hadn’t heard the sounds of a video game coming from my room. Instead, they heard me talking. When my mom walked into my room, she saw me sitting there playing the game, but I was commentating on the game and talking about everything that was going on. Through my whole life, I always had the idea that if I couldn’t be out there playing the game, I could be just as good talking about it.
So I answered the wish granter’s question: I wish I could be a sports reporter at a Cubs game. And I can honestly say that on the day of my wish, I truly experienced the greatest day of my life. I got to meet all the players I had watched and talked about. I got to interview Lou Piniella, and let me tell you, they call him Sweet Lou for a reason. He really is a nice guy. I got to talk to Jim Edmonds, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. By the way, Zambrano enjoys singing really loudly in the dugout.
Then I got to go up to the FOX Sports broadcast booth and call the third inning of the game with Eric Karros and Dick Stockton. Eric is a former Cub first baseman who signed my ball, “Marco: Don’t take my job.”
That day has changed my life forever. A few weeks later, I started my senior year of high school. On the first day back, I was approached by the TV Production department, asking me if I could commentate all of our high school football games. I met some great people at FOX Sports who told me if I ever needed an in, they would be glad to help me out.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has given me a new reason to wake up in the morning. And that reason is opportunity. So many roads have now opened for me after my wish. And for a kid who wasn’t supposed to live 24 hours, I think I’ve come a long way, and Make-A-Wish has helped me tremendously. Thank You.