When you first meet Joseph, you can’t help but be taken in by his contagious, cheerful spirit. Enthusiasm and smiles are never in short supply for this 9-year-old from Los Angeles, even after he battled kidney disease that required insertion of a feeding tube. I was fortunate enough to be the Make-A-Wish® volunteer for this wonderful child, and wanted to take a moment to let Southwest know how much I appreciate the airline’s support from a volunteer’s perspective.
My little guy has been raised alone by his mother, Marlene, but has been supported by a large group of extended family and friends. Many of them were on hand when we revealed Joseph’s wish to take a trip to the Florida theme parks and a party at a pizza parlor. Witnessing firsthand the pure joy on a child’s face when a wish is about to come true brings happiness to everyone who was also there during the tough days of treatment.
The image of Joseph breaking into a toothy grin will always bring a smile to my face. These kids go through so much, and when you are involved with Make-A-Wish, you hope to bring happiness to their life as their wish comes together. Joseph returned an equal amount of sunshine into my life with each moment we spent together. As we sent him on his wish trip to the Florida theme parks, I received one last big smile in a picture his mom snapped of Joseph comfortably settled into the window seat on his Southwest Airlines flight. Southwest is a national sponsor of Make-A-Wish and provides travel to help makes wishes come true.
When you are healthy, family trips can be taken for granted. But a wish child, even one Joseph’s age, can look at it as a return to normalcy in their life. Instead of being told they can’t go anywhere but the doctor’s office or the hospital, Make-A-Wish puts them in charge to decide to go anyplace, do anything, meet anyone, or be anything their heart desires.
I have been fortunate to be a part of nearly 20 wishes as a Make-A-Wish volunteer, and it really takes a lot of people to be involved to grant a child's wish. I always find it extraordinary when a company or person, who has no connection to a child, contributes a special experience to a wish that the child will remember the rest of their lives. A flight across country, filled with the anticipation of what lies ahead, can be just as exciting as the wish itself. Thank you Southwest Airlines for making sure my Joseph and his mom got to Orlando so he could experience his trip of a lifetime.