Elliot is spunky and outgoing, the kind of child who will strike up a conversation with strangers in a checkout line. He loves being outside and also loves building with LEGO bricks, especially Ninjago LEGO sets.
Elliot was diagnosed with retinoblastoma in his right eye when he was eight months old. He underwent five cycles of chemotherapy delivered directly to his eye, followed by monthly exams under anesthesia. He had a recurrence that required further chemo when he was three. Elliot’s now four, and his eye exams under anesthesia are spaced out to every three months, to make sure there are no new tumors or growth of the original one.
Our son amazes us with the way he handles trips to the hospital for his exams—high fives and fist bumps for the doctors and nurses, dancing down the halls to his procedure. He is remarkably sunny. Yet even with his upbeat personality, I have never seen him so full of happiness as on his wish trip to Walt Disney World® Resort.
Elliot was lucky to be one of 21 Make-A-Wish children from around the country whose wishes were sponsored by American Airlines and the Something mAAgic Foundation’s mAAgic flight. We were given an incredible send-off party by American Airlines employees at Logan Airport, along with a welcome party at the Orlando airport and a special celebration at Give Kids the World® Village, where we stayed for the week.
Arriving at Logan for our departure, Elliot hopped right out of the limo with two thumbs up for the cameras and engaged with everyone. I was so proud of him for being so open-hearted despite all he’s been through. The American Airlines employees outdid themselves with all the decorations and fun surprises. They put so much love and effort into it all.
Elliot was go-go-go his entire wish trip! He tapped into his daredevil side on his first-ever roller coaster rides. I think he felt comfortable stretching his wings because we were all so relaxed. He also loved meeting favorite characters like Kai from Ninjago.
Elliot’s older brother and sister have carried the stress of his illness, too, and deserved all the fun they experienced. For my husband, Patrick, and me, the wish trip gave us some space to reflect on and even celebrate the perseverance and resilience in our family that we discovered through Elliot’s illness.
The power of the wish was seeing all of the people from Make-A-Wish, American Airlines and Give Kids the World Village come together with such pure love and energy for our Elliot, and seeing him in turn embrace and enjoy the experience.
There were so many moments during our wish trip where I just stood back amazed—at the pure joy my kids were experiencing, the generosity of everyone we encountered, and how in the moment we all were. I just hope you all can feel our gratitude. If you look at any of the pictures of Elliot from his wish, you should know that I have never seen him smile brighter and that is because of the work you do and your generosity.