Eight-year-old Luca faces every day with a positive attitude. “He’s pretty much always happy,” said his mom, Sarah. “He likes to be with people. You can’t even go to the grocery store with him unless you want to be there for a while because he chats to everybody.”
Meet Luca and he’ll greet you with a hug, a kiss or a high-five. His favorite activities are those that include other people. And once you get to know Luca’s story, his uplifting attitude takes on a whole new meaning.
Luca was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, slit ventricle syndrome and a few other diagnoses. He’s had 28 surgeries in his young life, including 17 brain surgeries. Many of Luca’s days are spent in physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. It’s not uncommon for his family to be at the hospital 4 to 6 days a month.
Luca’s family moved from Ireland a few years ago after doctors there said they were out of treatment options. The family relocated to Seattle to get Luca the care he needed. “There’s more neurosurgeons in Seattle than in all of Ireland,” said Sarah.
To say they’ve been through many ups and downs is an understatement.
It was during one of his many surgeries that his family received news of a bright spot: Luca would receive a wish from Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington.
“He loves Spiderman. We didn’t even consider (wishing for) anything else,” said Sarah.
So, Luca and his family headed to sunny Florida for a week of super-heroes, amusement park rides and uninterrupted time to heal.
For older sister, Freya, this meant being able to let her guard down and enjoy spending time as a family. “She’s known this her whole life and gotten used to hospitals and medical appointments,” said Sarah. “It takes over her childhood as well.”
But for one, blissful week, the hospital was the farthest thing from the family’s mind. For a family who lives day-in and day-out with a complex medical diagnosis, that’s a huge weight lifted.
That’s because research shows, and physicians agree, a wish can help improve a child’s quality of life. These life-changing wishes replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope—helping children battling critical illnesses see the impossible as possible.
“We talk about it a lot. It’s made a big impact on his life. We can say to him, ‘You got this trip because you were so brave.’ It will help him through the hospital stuff,” said Sarah.
In fact, Luca has started walking on crutches since he returned from his wish trip—something doctors told his family would never happen. “Some of it could have been the break and he got to chill out for a while,” said Sarah. “He came back and started working hard.”
Wishes like Luca’s are possible because of donors like you. Right now, nearly 80 percent of the wishes we grant involve airline travel, and we always need donated airline miles. You, too, can donate your frequent flier miles to help kids like Luca online now
, or call in during the Wishes in Flight mileage drive with KOMO News on Thursday, August 1.
“(A wish) is a window in a kid’s life that’s all about them, but not other issues,” said Sarah. For that, we thank you!