Life-changing. A word often used to describe the effects of a wish. Perhaps one of the strongest examples of this comes from wish kid Stephen.
Ten years ago, Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas had the pleasure of granting Stephen’s wish to be coach for a day for the Boise State football team. Although, Stephen almost didn’t get to do what he originally wanted. Before his wish interview, the family brainstormed for hours thinking of wish ideas. But when he got into the room, he was reserved and asked for a shopping spree. His parents, while confused after their previous conversations, didn’t want to control the interview. “Right as we got home Stephen started crying,” said mom Betsy. She explained that Stephen had been so disappointed with his diagnosis that he didn’t want to be disappointed if his wish couldn’t be granted. Betsy called the office the next day. As fate would have it, the President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Idaho was having dinner with Mrs. Peterson, wife of the Boise State Football head coach. Being wish parents themselves, they made the arrangements, and the details were set for Stephen to live his dream.
The city and team went above and beyond to make this a day for Stephen and his family to remember. When they landed in Boise, a billboard made just for him welcomed them as so many people cheered him on. Everywhere Stephen went he was met with gifts, food, presents—so much so that they had to have the hotel ship some things back home!
Stephen’s time as coach included being in practices and meetings. On the day of the game he led the team onto the field holding a hammer (a Boise State tradition), stayed on the sideline the whole game, and even got to call some plays. “Other than him getting diagnosed with cancer, this was the thing that has changed his life the most,” says mom Betsy.
But his wish didn’t stop when the clock ran out. “It wasn’t just the wish, it was the life-changing relationships the wish brought us,” explained Betsy. Stephen made good friends on the trip and bonded with Coach Peterson. The two still talk on the phone on a monthly basis and for special occasions. An 8th grade class in Boise wrote notes for Stephen every year to encourage him to continue to stay strong.
Stephen’s fight has been ten long years of treatment. Diagnosed with cancer back in November of 2009, Stephen wasn’t sure where his journey would end. He went through 5 years of hard chemotherapy that left him with no immune system. He then went into 5 years of immunotherapy. But on December 15th—exactly ten years after he was first diagnosed—Stephen could triumphantly say he was cancer free.
Even though Stephen received his wish ten years ago, his family still talks about it. “It came at the perfect time,” says Betsy. “If he hadn’t gotten his wish granted, I’m not sure he would be here today.” A wish is so much more than a moment in time—a wish stays with you. And when the stars align, wish kids can do the impossible.