Four-year-olds were made to play. They climb up trees and bounce off walls. They run and jump and dance and sing. They are spring-loaded balls of energy, full of laughter and energy.
Joshua’s family knew something was wrong when their fun-loving, soccer-playing son began to slow. Joshua lost his desire to play. He began to lose weight, and experienced sporadic bouts of vomiting. Joshua’s mom took him to the pediatrician, and within minutes, the doctors knew that something was wrong.
Joshua was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The next three-and-a-half years were an emotional rollercoaster for Joshua and his family—full of tests, appointments, and procedures.
“Doctors did a study treatment with him,” said Joshua’s mom, Maria. “They didn’t work. He had adverse reactions. They switched to longer, more common, more invasive treatments, and he got sick with everything—all the illnesses and side effects that could possibly happen.”
Joshua endured pneumonia and bronchitis on top of his intense treatment regimen of blood transfusions and chemotherapy, and spent most of his time inpatient at the hospital or at home in isolation. While time passed, the treatment brought some of his energy back, but he still received nutrients through a gastronomy tube for six months.
Despite his situation, Joshua remained a source of positivity and joy for everyone around him. “He was always smiling, even on his bad days,” said Maria. “He danced with nurses, he painted, he played videogames, and colored with crayons and watercolors.”
Joshua’s older sister, Akima, saw a public service announcement for Make-A-Wish on TV and referred Joshua to receive a wish. At the time, Maria didn’t even know what Make-A-Wish was.
“It was emotional,” she said. “I remember that I tried to search and see what Make-A-Wish did, what wishes were. I saw moms sharing what their kids were doing. When I got the call, we had just left a difficult treatment with Joshua from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was motivating because I was suffering and got such good news, and for that moment I forgot about the hard day. I got so happy I cried a little.”
Within a year, Joshua was all set to take off to his favorite theme park when he relapsed. The day before their flight, Joshua’s doctor made the call to postpone the wish until Joshua was healthy enough to travel.
The setback only inspired Joshua to fight harder. “He was so motivated,” said Maria. “He was willing to do anything to go on his wish. He was told he had to eat on his own, no IG tube, and he put so much effort into it; that’s when we knew he was ready.”
At long last, our community sent Joshua and his family to Joshua’s favorite theme park through Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. He met his favorite characters and rode ride after ride, all with a smile on his face. After three-and-a-half years of treatment, Joshua was able to play again.
Maria credits their family’s wish-granting volunteers for making Joshua’s wish experience unforgettable. She was so moved by their amazing work that her whole family plans to become volunteers!
“We didn’t have to worry about anything except smiling the whole time,” she said. “You see so many volunteers helping and wanting to do well, and they’re doing it all for your child. Your child is bringing all these people joy.
Right now, more than 80 percent of wishes require airline travel, and we rely on donated airline miles to help grant these wishes. Please join us on August 1, 2019 in partnership with KOMO News for our Wishes in Flight mileage drive. You can donate your unused frequent flier miles to help grant wishes to more kids like Joshua.