“On April 29, 2010, my son, Erik embarked on a superhero day to save Seattle. This was his wish and at the time none of us expected it to be something more than a fun-filled day for him and his immediate family. Boy, were we wrong. What followed was so much more than that and has forever changed us all.
Erik’s wish wasn’t just a small event in Seattle. Thanks to the internet, it was big. In fact, it went viral and continues to live on and give hope to thousands worldwide. I think it appeals to so many because it’s a story about hope and triumph. It shows that despite the adversity and challenges you may face, every day is a new day and there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. His story shows people that their situation may not be as bad as they think if they can hold onto hope.
Since Erik’s passing, I have had an incredible desire to use his compelling story to help raise funds and make more wishes possible. But, I’ve also taken to being a part of planning wishes for others who need some hope.
I got my first chance to do this in May 2012, when a wish child named Kody wished to play in the snow and have a snowball fight with his brother. Kody was from California so obviously snow wasn’t in the forecast there. He needed to head north for his wish and Seattle was the perfect destination since winter had left the Cascade Mountains with copious snow. The Make-A-Wish staff member who had planned Erik’s wish, Jessie Elenbaas, recalled that I was a ski patroller at a local ski resort so she called and asked if he could help with this wish.
I said yes, but honestly I had no absolutely no idea what I was doing. I started asking some friends and contacts in the ski community if they would help with this wish. This was where I became utterly amazed. They all knew of Erik’s wish so they were in. Every person threw their creativity and energy into making a wish for Kody and his family that exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Now that I granted a wish for Kody, the second call I received from Jessie about another child who wished to go skiing was all that much easier.
So, in March 2018 I went at it again. This time, I got a chance to plan an amazing wish for Chris from Alabama. He specifically chose Seattle because his mom and grandfather lived in the northwest many years ago and told fun stories about their adventures of living here.
The idea of helping another wish child realize their dream gave me renewed energy, but it was more than that. Being asked to help plan and execute a wish fills me with a deep sense of pride because I know firsthand the difference that it makes not only for them, but also for me. There is a quote from John Bunyan, the 17th century writer, who famously sums this up, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
I can’t repay those who pitched in to help make my son’s wish come true, but I can pay it forward and do the same for others like Erik. Bringing hope and light, joy and compassion to a child and their family is one of life’s greatest gifts. I’m so grateful for every chance I have to wish it forward and each time that phone rings and Make-A-Wish is on the other line, I will say yes.