Make-A-Wish® and The Walt Disney Company® celebrated the 100,000th Disney-related wish during a special event at Disneyland Resort Wednesday night. Since granting the first wish in 1981 for eight-year-old Frank "Bopsy" Salazar to go to Disneyland®, Make-A-Wish and Disney have worked together to grant wishes for children from all over the world. Thirty-five years later, Make-A-Wish and Disney have marked an enormous milestone by recognizing seven-year-old Luke, from San Antonio, as the 100,000th Disney wish kid.
Days after celebrating his 5th birthday with his family, Luke was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. After having his tumor removed, Luke faced months of chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell treatment to help combat the cells that had metastasized. Luke could think of nothing more perfect than to visit the Disneyland Resort with his entire family to give him the hope, strength and joy he would need during the road ahead.
Through the generosity of The Walt Disney Company, Luke's wish came true. After setting off for California from Texas, Luke and his family spent several fun-filled days visiting the parks. Highlights included a special meeting with his favorite Cars characters as well as Anna and Elsa, a special viewing of World of Color - Celebrate!, and reserved seating for the Paint the Night Parade and Disneyland Forever Fireworks Spectacular.
"Since the very first wish, Disney has provided wish kids like Luke with imaginative experiences and lasting memories, the kind only Disney can provide," said David Williams, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America. Jon Stettner, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish International echoed those comments saying, "Disney's steadfast support of our mission continues to grow as they help us all believe that anything is possible. We are grateful to have such a dedicated friend."
"It's amazing to think that 35 years ago, Make-A-Wish granted its very first wish at the Disneyland Resort, which sparked a legacy of fulfilling wishes that has captured so many hearts," said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "It's wonderful to celebrate our 100,000th wish together, and we're proud to play a role in bringing smiles and laughter to wish children and their families."
Disney is a long-time supporter of Make-A-Wish and uses its magic to form incredible, life-changing experiences for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Through its long-time support, Disney has contributed to the Make-A-Wish mission in a number of ways, providing more than $15 million in cash and in-kind donations in the last year alone. Nearly 8,000 Disney-related wishes are granted every year -- including experiences at Disney theme parks, voyages on Disney Cruise Line, meetings with Disney characters, and visits to TV and movie sets -- making Disney the most popular request by Make-A-Wish children, and accounting for one of every two wishes granted.