April showers often bring May flowers, but for Daniel, it’s the showers that really matter.
The 10-year-old became fascinated with extreme weather around the time Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012. The power was out for about a day in his family’s home, and some friends came over to visit. Daniel and his pals were pretending to be on-scene reporters at the Jersey Shore – sparking his passion for meteorology.
For Daniel’s mother, it was great to see him so happy and enthused with a new hobby. Just a few years prior, though, she didn’t exactly know what kind of life to expect for her son.
Soon after Daniel was born, his family learned he was deaf. A few years later, they found out why: Daniel had a degenerative neuro-sensory disease. Because of a side effect of his illness called retinitis pigmentosa, day by day and month by month, Daniel is slowly losing his ability to see – and there is no known cure for his condition. “It’s pretty devastating,” his mom said.
Daniel’s illness will be with him for the rest of his life. But, through all of the doctor visits and medical ordeals, the weather brings Daniel happiness. No matter the state of his health, he will always be able to feel the rain on his hands, the wind blowing past his face and taste snowflakes falling on his tongue.
The many complications of Daniel’s condition qualified him for a wish and after meeting with Make-A-Wish volunteers, he hand-wrote a letter explaining what he wanted more than anything else. “I chose to visit The Weather Channel as my wish because I want to be a meteorologist when I grow up. … I want to learn as much as I can about weather forecasting, extreme weather and The Weather Channel. Thank you very much for this once in a lifetime opportunity!”
The experience went far beyond the expectations of Daniel’s family. It was a celebration of the courageous life Daniel has led, and no stone was left unturned in the efforts to make it as memorable of an occasion as possible for him.
From the moment Daniel and his family hopped into the backseat of the limousine that picked them up, the day became a true adventure. The building was decorated with Daniel’s name, and he was given his own studio room. Everyone in the office was wearing T-shirts for him.
Daniel was a bit shy and overwhelmed in the beginning, but as his tour of the network’s facilities continued, his trepidation turned into excitement and fun.
Daniel appeared on the air with Mike Bettes, one of his biggest inspirations. He also witnessed a dry ice tornado, rode in a storm tracker truck and spoke with much of the on-air talent. Bettes and Daniel ate lunch together, and both shared stories about their passion for weather. Daniel also met Dr. Greg Forbes, another one of his idols, and they discussed tornados in a conversation that lasted a whole hour.
From beginning to end, the entire family enjoyed the experience.
“We still talk about it and how … everything was just perfect,” Daniel’s mother said.
Before Daniel’s wish was granted, he asked his mother if he could be a weatherman for Halloween. She couldn’t find a costume, so she made one herself. After his visit to The Weather Channel, though, he had the official hat and jacket that was given to him from the staff there. He had the “swag,” as his mom put it.
So what does Daniel want to be for Halloween the next year?
A weatherman, he said.