Santiago is your typical six-year-old; he loves toy cars, pizza, and Disneyland®. When Santiago was diagnosed with leukemia, he did not let it slow him down. Santiago continues to be the social director of his friend group. He does not completely understand his illness and why he has to visit the hospital so much, but he puts on a smile for every appointment.
Santiago’s bravery has touched his family. “Throughout the [treatment] process, he has never lost his energy,” said Santiago’s mom, Marlene. “His courage has made it easier for me to handle the situation and keep going every day.”
And Santiago found yet another tool in his arsenal when he found out he would receive a wish. That’s because wishes have proven physical and emotional benefits that can give children with critical illness a higher chance of survival.
What’s more, a wish transforms the lives of children, their families, volunteers, supporters, medical professionals and communities. In Santiago’s case, his bright personality and perseverance made a big impact on everyone he met, including wish-granting volunteer Jordan.
“Making kids laugh and making them happy is contagious,” Jordan says of her role as a wish-granting volunteer. “Their excitement makes everyone around them happy.”
Santiago and his family had much to be happy about during their trip, starting with a special meet-and-greet with the pilot of their flight. Santiago even got to wear the pilot’s hat!
That special feeling continued to grow as Santiago ran through the amusement park, riding all of the rides as many times as he wanted. It is fitting that his favorite ride was Goofy’s flying school ride. Soaring high in the sky, Santiago let go of the stress of being sick and just felt like a kid again.
“My favorite part of Santiago’s wish was welcoming him home at the airport after his wish,” said Jordan. “It was late at night. Normally, everyone is tired after a late flight. But Santiago and his family were all smiles. They were so excited to tell us all about their trip.”
“When he sees his blue Make-A-Wish button he remembers the trip,” said Marlene. Santiago and his family will always carry the hope of the day when this battle will all be over.
Research shows that wishes have the possibility to give kids they hope and strength they need to fight harder. For children who are battling a critical illness, a wish can give them and their families the chance to believe anything is possible.
You can help give other kids like Santiago this same sense of hope. We need more volunteers like Jordan to help fulfill kids’ wishes. Check out all of our volunteer opportunities
, and sign up with a friend today!