There are certain people that you come across in everyday life circumstances that, for one reason or another, leave an impact on you. They change you, make you better, and flip your perspective. They leave a lasting mark even if it was only moments that you spent with them.
Aaron is one of those people.
He’s always been a unique kid, and managed to keep a happy, positive outlook through all the curveballs life has thrown at him since day one. Yes, day one. Aaron was born with spina bifida, a birth defect that prohibits the spinal cord from closing completely. On top of that initial diagnosis, Aaron’s parents Albert and Janene found out their son had many other complications, including paralyzed vocal chords, low muscle tone, and the inability to walk or eat by mouth. As he grew older, Aaron continued to face more challenges in his life.
They knew Aaron wouldn’t be able to do things like other kids his age, like run around outside or learn how to drive. But perhaps that was fate, because Aaron developed another interest that kept him tuning in every night.
“Weather was his first love,” Aaron’s dad, Al, tells us. “Ever since he was seven, we’ve watched the NBC local news and national news daily. It’s become a nightly ritual for the family.” Aaron’s passion for the news become an important part of his life, and was the obvious direction when his parents finally decided it was time for his wish. “We’ve known since he was an infant that he would qualify for Make-A-Wish®
,” Al said, “But we thought of it as something for the future. We wanted to wait until we felt as though Aaron was ready, and we wanted him to be able to make his own decision.”
Al and Janene knew that the news would be a lifelong interest of Aaron, and were not surprised when he revealed to wish granters that his dream was to meet an NBC Nightly News correspondent. Out of all the reporters, Aaron selected Katy Tur, telling us he picked her because she was both beautiful and smart.
So that was Aaron’s wish: to see a day-in-the-life of reporter Katy Tur, from all the behind-the-scenes action to a live news report. This wish required Aaron’s family to travel from their home in Lancaster to The Big Apple! Their hotel was right in the heart of the city, allowing them to walk around and get the real city experience. On their first day in New York City, the family toured the Intrepid Air & Space Museum, and on the second day they headed over to NBC Studios, where Katy surprised Aaron by joining him for the whole four-hour tour. “The volume of the time Katy invested in Aaron was easily the most amazing part of the whole trip,” Al said. “She was amazingly friendly and so comfortable with Aaron. It felt more like a family reunion than meeting someone you didn’t know.”
Aaron and his crew got to go on the SNL Stage, observe a production meeting, and even sit behind the NBC Nightly News desk. The next day, Katy was going to take Aaron on a pretty standard story when the news broke out – The Supreme Court had just legalized gay marriage! Katy asked Aaron which story he would rather cover, and before long they were off to the Stonewall Inn, where Katy interviewed many different couples about the breaking news. “We got a behind the scenes look at a truly historic moment,” Al said. Afterwards, they all went out to lunch, where a great meal was accompanied by great conversation. On a last minute spur, they decided to use some of the money from Make-A-Wish for some shopping at Toys-R-Us in Times Square!
“Another great thing about the wish was that it wasn’t over when we got back,” Al said, explaining how Katy posted a picture of her and Aaron on Instagram, and the two now follow each other and stay in touch on social media. “They also email back and forth, and the social media interaction has helped Aaron connect to the world. It’s given him confidence, and helped him open up to people,” Al tells us. Of course, the family still keeps up with the nightly news, but now each time they see the NBC studio, or Katy reporting, they have the memories of their Make-A-Wish trip, which makes it even more special. Aaron says the wish has changed him, and sees the news as a likely avenue for his future.
“It was great to see him impacting other people,” Al said. “Everywhere Aaron goes, he impacts people in a positive way. We got the impression that Katy gained a lot from this experience, too. As parents, we greatly appreciate when people pay attention and go out of their way for him. It means the world to us. So something like this wish just meant the world to us.”