They sing, they dance, they play basketball and they capture the heartfelt wishes of seriously ill children.
“I want to kiss Troy!” Three-year-old Paytlee says gleefully before she is off to Hollywood with her family to meet “Troy,” High School Musical star Zac Efron, before the premiere of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
Paytlee – diagnosed with a brain tumor – is one of more than 70 children with life-threatening conditions who have requested wishes related to Disney’s High School Musical through Make-A-Wish®.
As the East High Wildcats say no matter what challenge comes up: “We are all in this together.” Words of encouragement for wish kids in need of strength and hope to thrive through their conditions.
But these HSM wish experiences don’t just empower the wish kids; Director Kenny Ortega says having the children on the set brings courage and inspiration to everyone.
“When the kids are here, it livens everybody’s spirit,” Ortega says during the filming of Disney’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year. “The minute you arrive (one set) it’s like ‘Where are they? Where are they?’”
The wish kids go behind the scenes to watch rehearsals on set, walk the red carpet at the premiers and visit with the movies’ stars – Efron, Corbin Bleu, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Monique Coleman, Lucas Grabeel, KayCee Stroh, Olesya Rulin, Chris Warren Jr. and Ryan Sanborn.
For HSM 3, 13 children visit the movie set in Utah enjoying the action of rehearsals and filming, getting photos and autographs with the stars and enthusiastically joining in some East High Wildcat cheers.
Three more wish kids attend the world premiere of High School Musical 3: Senior Year in Los Angeles. Jennifer, Rachel and Scarlett parade down the University of Southern California’s Galen Center’s red carpet and receive a variety of HSM treats complete with an East High Wildcats yearbook.
Efron, Hudgens, Tisdale, Ortega and the rest of the cast even stop by for photos and sign the girls’ yearbooks. Inside, the girls can’t believe they are watching the movie not far away from their HSM idols.
As for Paytlee, her wish is granted when she meets Efron during an HSM fan event at the El Capitan Theatre. Though a little star-struck at first, Paytlee gets her chance to kiss Efron and even sit on his lap.
“It’s a humbling experience,” Efron tells People.
Disney is proud to be a long-supporter of Make-A-Wish® and uses its magic to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. With more than 6,000 wishes granted every year – including visits to the Disney Parks, Disney Cruises, meeting Disney characters, attending sporting events and visiting TV and movie sets – Disney themed wishes are the most popular requests to Make-A-Wish.