Return to mobile version

Sam's Wish at the Bottom of the World!

  • Sam arrives in Antarctica after a long journey.

  • Sam on top of of the world, at the bottom of the world!

  • Seeing the penguins was Sam's favorite part of Antarctica.

  • Sam paddles around the ice floes, exploring.

  • Sam became fast friends with wish kid Alexandra on his trip!

“ It was pretty life-changing being there and seeing it all. ”

- Sam, wish recipient

Fifteen-year-old Sam, from Alaska, has always loved penguins. He admires how they waddle hundreds of miles for food and endure harsh winters at the bottom of the world.

Sam, too, has endured more than most. In 2012, after undergoing two open-heart surgeries due to his life-threatening heart condition, Sam found out that he qualified for a wish through Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington. 

Sam thought long and hard about his wish. Eventually, said Sam, "It came to me. That place that I'd always dreamt of visiting, a place with penguins, blue whales and some other amazing creatures: Antarctica." Sam's wish was clear: to go to Antarctica to see penguins!

Before departing on his once-in-a-lifetime trip to the southernmost continent, Sam and his family attended a send-off party at the Alaska Zoo with Professor Jennifer Burns, a biologist specializing in Antarctic seals. Burns talked about all the animals they might see on their journey—seals, whales, penguins and birds—and shared her experiences as a researcher.

On January 1, Sam and his family of four began their adventure. Getting to Antarctica took multiple days and included flying to Buenos Aires, Argentina and another short flight before boarding the ship to Antarctica. 

An unlikely story unfolded in Buenos Aires when Sam saw a girl wearing a Make-A-Wish backpack at the hotel. He approached the girl to find out that Alexandra was another wish kid coming on the Antarctica cruise too! Both Sam and his new friend were the first wish children to ever travel to Antarctica through Make-A-Wish, and they became fast friends.

Sam has endured so much due to his life-threatening heart condition, so this trip was time for him to focus on the things in his life that bring him joy: penguins, whales, time with family and visiting what he calls, "one of the Earth's last frontiers."

Sam and one of his penguin heroes.And the penguins did not disappoint. When Sam sat down on the ice, the curious creatures came close. Sam watched them at work building nests out of rocks and waddling around on the ice. Sam saw whales, too: Humpback, Minke and Orca.

The ice was impressive. "I thought the scenery would be like Alaska, but it was completely different and unique," said Sam. "Everything there is ice - giant tabular icebergs. It was cool being there, knowing you're in a place where very few people have gone."

As if Sam was not already enough of an adventurer at heart, he even dared to jump into the ocean! "It was pretty cold," he reported with a smile.

When asked about the best part of the trip, Sam didn't pause before answering, "Definitely penguins." 

"I would never have thought of going to Antarctica,” said his mom, Sharon. “I didn't understand how beautiful and different it was, and the penguins were amazing!"

When asked about the impact of the wish that took him from one “Last Frontier” to another, Sam said: "It was pretty life-changing being there and seeing it all." About the overall family experience, his dad John said: "It was healing."

Special Thanks: Wish-granting volunteers Phillip Ball and Patrice Chandler, Dr. Jennifer Burns, UAA, Alaska Zoo, Taco Bell/Denali Foods, Hill Barrett Travel, Hurtigruten, Make-A-Wish America

It was cool being there, knowing you're in a place where very few people have gone. ”

— Sam, wish kid

Join the conversation

This story makes me feel

Leave a Comment

news rss feed

Stay in the Know!

Receive the latest news and updates with our Wish of the Month eNews delivered right to your inbox.

Sign up for e-News

Search for Stories that Matter to you

Join the conversation

Leave a Comment

1 Comment

Hermilo Lugo

Make-a-Wish, you People are the best, Hats Off to you!! My favorite charity, What you do for these kids is beyond words, gives them hope, and happiness, especially after all they've been through or are going through, we know, we were one of those families. Thank you Make-a-Wish for all that you do for the kids and their Families. Hermilo Lugo

March 17, 2014 - 11:48 AM

You might also be interested in ...

Micah , 6

Spinal muscular atrophy

I wish to be a ballerina

Micah Dances Centerstage During Her Ballerina Wish

Nate , 16


I wish to makeover my high school baseball field

Nate Wishes to Give his Team a Field of Dreams!

Ivy , 15

brain tumor

I wish to have my own music video

Ivy Makes a Music Video to Share Her Hope for Peace
Make-A-Wish® Alaska & Washington
811 1st Ave #520
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 623-5300
Toll Free (800) 304-9474
Make-A-Wish® Alaska & Washington, Eastern Washington Office
104 S Freya St
Green Flag Bldg #210
Spokane, WA 99202
(509) 458-2618
Toll Free (888) 790-7005
Make-A-Wish® Alaska & Washington, Alaska Office
430 W 7th Ave #110
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 258-9474
Toll Free (844) 510-9474