Make a Wish and Give Kids the World

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

The Holiday Season is fast approaching, and many families are preparing to do their shopping for gifts in the next few weeks. I am still shocked that certain stores opened at 4 a.m., and people were lining up at the door to shop! Please... let me sleep! I am doing all my shopping online this year!

This is also the time for gifts for people you don't know... people you never get to meet. For many years I signed checks to charity and felt good about it, but recently I had the chance to see how the money that is collected helps families in need.

I was working at Universal Orlando at the Barney Show. If you don't have kids, you might not realize that Barney the purple dinosaur has a fantastic attraction at Universal, and even grown adults have been known to love the show. You should check it out if you are in the area!

I was the first of my co-workers to arrive one day, and I greeted a family of 3 as they walked to the giant Barney fountain. Mom was busy reading a park map, and Dad was pushing his son in a wheelchair they rented at the front of the park. I waved at them and smiled and the little boy waved back at me... I liked him right away, he was a friendly little guy.

The family made their way closer to me and I said, "Good Morning, how are you?" The little boy introduced himself as Nathan, as Mom and Dad smiled on. I crouched down to shake his hand and noticed a pink button on his shirt that mentioned he was on a "Make a Wish" trip. My co-workers and I would see lots of families on trips like these, and we made sure they had a fantastic time while at our particular attraction... but this was different because Nathan's wish was to meet Barney. As soon as I realized his wish was to meet Barney, I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to make sure he had the time of his life.

I led the family to Barney's backyard playground and gave them a tour of the place. I made sure to tell Nathan that Barney was expecting him, and that if he needed anything at all to let me know. Nathan looked up at his Mom and Dad in awe, smiled, and walked off to play on his own for a little bit.

I asked Nathan's Mom and Dad how they were doing, and how their trip was so far... they told me that they landed in Orlando the night before, and this was their first stop. Nathan had cancer, and there wasn't much more doctors could do to help him. I shared with them that I lost my Dad to cancer a few years before, and while I didn't know what it was like to see my own child go through the illness, I did know the toll it takes on the patient and the family. I gave them a big hug and told them I would be right back.

I borrowed the radio from my team lead and called my supervisor. I told her the situation, and got permission to pull off some extraordinary things for the show. First, I went to the gift shop and picked up a Barney balloon, T-Shirt, and stuffed dinosaurs to represent Barney, B.J. and Baby Bop. I took the items backstage and explained to the entertainment crew what I had planned and they loved the idea.

I made my way back to the family just in time to tell them to look for me when they entered the theater. When the time came and the doors opened, I waved wildly for Nathan and he smiled and waved back to me... then I escorted them to their front row seats. I told Nathan that Barney wanted him to have the best seats in the house (and that was true... Barney gave me strict orders)! Nathan got out of his wheelchair slowly and sat down on the wooden bench. I told the family where I would be if they needed me, and left so they could enjoy the show.

During the show, Nathan jumped, danced, sang... this was a kid who barely had any energy but forgot all that for just a little while. He had the time of his life, and his Mom and Dad clapped along, smiled and cried.

After the show they started to get ready to leave, and I hurried over to them. I looked over at Nathan and asked him if he liked the show, and he did... then I ask him if he felt like hanging out for a little while... I didn't tell him why, but I asked them to wait while everyone else left the theater and the doors closed.

Nathan's parents were looking around and wondering what was going on, and I explained that Barney and his dinosaur friends wanted to meet their biggest fan. I asked his Mom and Dad if I could hold their video camera for them while Barney, B.J., and Baby Bop made their way into the theater. The parents were crying immediately and so was everyone else in the room. Nathan was shy at first, but made his way over for hugs and pictures. Barney motioned for them to stand still for a minutes and he hopped over to a bench where we had hidden Nathan's gifts. My supervisor brought in the giant Barney balloon and handed it to Nathan. His smile was so big.

Soon it was time for the dinosaurs to get ready for their next show, and I explained that they had front row seats for the entire day, and they came for all 5 shows. Nathan even helped me escort other guests and became my special helper. He loved the idea that he was working for Barney's show.

When the last show was over, everyone working that day gave the family a huge hug, and told them how much they meant to us.

4 months later I got an email from Nathan's Mom and she had the bad news that Nathan had passed away after a long fight. He was buried with his Barney T-shirt and his stuffed dinosaurs that meant so much to him. My heart ached for Nathan's Mom and Dad, and for him. He was a wonderful kid... smart, funny, outgoing, and above all loving. He said thank you so many times that day, but I have to thank him... he taught me that bad things happen, but they don't have to hurt your spirit.

If you are thinking about donating to certain charities, (and please believe me... they are all worthy) please consider the Make a Wish Foundation and the Give Kids the World Foundation. These groups give kids the chance to forget their health for a little while and just be kids... and I don't think there is any better gift you can give.

Thanks for considering it, and I wish everyone who reads my blog a Happy Holiday.


  1. Eric Says:

    Love your blog. Followed a link from a post at Mind if I add you to my blogroll at my blog, Equality Time?

  1. Sydney Says:

    Wow, thanks for the compliment! I have been to your blog many times, and I love it. I would be honored to be added to the blogroll, can I add you to mine? Thanks again :)