Twelve-year-old Alan was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and renal failure at birth. By the time he was one year old, his condition had worsened to end-stage renal disease. “It’s been a difficult journey,” said his mom, Ann Marie.
For Alan, hospitals, lab work, tests and continual medication are all he has ever known. He keeps a positive attitude and listens to music that inspires him to keep fighting his medical battles. So, when Alan found out that he was eligible to receive a wish through Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington, he wished to meet his favorite musical artist and Seattle local, Macklemore!
When Alan heard that his wish to meet Macklemore was coming true, everything changed. “He was ecstatic,” said Ann Marie. “He started compiling different questions that he would ask Macklemore. Then, he started to count down the days until we would meet him.”
Then, less than one month before, Alan’s family received a phone call. Alan was going to have his kidney transplant surgery the next day. “We had to call Make-A-Wish to postpone the wish,” said Ann Marie. “I had to comfort Alan in telling him not to worry as his moment of glory and excitement would eventually come.”
The wish was rescheduled for December, and was almost postponed again due to his health. But, Alan focused on his recovery and pulled through illness to keep his wish on track.
A long time coming
Finally, wish day arrived. Alan enjoyed the sold-out concert with his family, all the while anticipating meeting Macklemore after the show.
Macklemore, a.k.a. Ben Haggerty, introduced himself to Alan backstage as he and Ryan Lewis asked Alan questions, signed autographs, took photos and shared laughs. “Macklemore was very nice to Alan and asked him many questions about school and even recommended a few of the high schools that Alan is planning on going to,” said Ann Marie.
This meeting, to Alan, was nothing short of “incredible.”
Today, Ann Marie cherishes the photos, videos and news that came out after the wish—those little stories immortalizing her son’s wish and reminding their whole family that yes, this really did happen. “It reminds me of how special we were treated and all that was done to make my son happy,” she said. “It's very humbling and we are so grateful.”
A lasting impression
The following week, Alan was back at the hospital. One afternoon, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks was coming through for a visit, when Alan spotted someone familiar by his side. Ann Marie said, “I didn't believe it at first and then, all of a sudden, Macklemore came straight toward Alan and said, ‘What's up my man?’”
Ann Marie already sees the impact of the wish on her son’s attitude and outlook on life. Because battling an illness is all Alan has ever known, the wish experience humbled Alan and made him feel lucky just to be alive. Even more than that, Alan has already begun paying forward the kindness that was shown to him.
After the wish, Alan’s close friend was diagnosed with leukemia. Alan is often in the hospital, so he makes regular visits to see his friend, to whom all the aspects of battling a serious illness are foreign and frightening. Alan sits with his friend and talks about his feelings and his Make-A-Wish experience and even showed him how to take his first medications for chemotherapy.
“Alan was mirroring what our Make-A-Wish volunteers had done with him,” said Ann Marie. “Alan sat next to his friend's bedside encouraging him, conversing and bringing that positive energy to make his friend feel at ease.”
According to Ann Marie, the wish experience impacted their entire family, but it was Alan who needed it most. “My experience [with Make-A-Wish] not only brought hope, joy and happiness to our family but it made my son smile. He was the one born with the health condition that has kept him sick all of his life. Having this wish turns everything around.”
Special thanks: Wish-granting volunteers Lou Cutler and Molly Engle, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Mill Creek Multimedia.