I'm a person who can handle high pressure situations of all kinds. I've had to deal with many difficult situations professionally and personally and I almost always keep it together.
In my adult life I have cried three times. The first was when my wife had a medical crisis. The second was when I found out my son Tommy had several severe heart defects and we were told he may not live to his first birthday. The third was on our Make-A-Wish® trip when our plane landed in Orlando and the pilot announced they had a special guest on board referring to my son.
First a little background. During Tommy's first two years of life we spend months in the hospital by his side as he underwent three open heart surgeries. He spent so much of that critical early development time unable to fully explore like a child should. When he wasn't in the hospital we kept him home as much as possible to protect him from germs because a simple cold or flu at that stage could mean a week back in the hospital or worse. So when his last surgery was complete and he was stable we let him push himself as much as possible. I was determined to not put him back in a bubble. We know his own physiology is going to limit him as he grows so we are determined we will not put any additional limits on him.
Our goal is to make him feel as normal as possible, but that's not Make-A-Wish's goal. Make-A-Wish and everyone affiliated with them do everything they possibly can to make the wish child and their family feel special. It's difficult to articulate how amazing this experience is. We had restaurants seat us immediately, characters postpone their breaks to spend extra time with us, strangers come up to us and give presents to all my kids and the list goes on and on.
Tommy has speech delays but the trip did wonders for his growth. His imagination was in overload. I spent half the trip carrying him on my shoulders so he could see as much as possible. At 3-years old he had never said his name until he was on the People Mover in Disney World. During the ride they paged Mr. Tom Morrow and he said, "That's me, I'm Tom." For us it was a magical moment we will always remember. He talked so much during this trip and has continued to do so. The wish trip was overwhelming in the best way possible. To this day I get teary eyed when I think about it.
I'll never be able to thank the people who made this possible for my family in the way they deserve. But if I had one wish this holiday season it would be to let everyone experience the joy and gratitude I was able to experience by being the father of a son who had his wish come true.
Thank you to everyone who supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation