Marlon started fighting leukemia when most children are just getting comfortable walking. At 16 months old, he was spending far too much time on the oncology floor of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Not being able to understand what he was going through was hard on his upbeat personality, but music helped him cope. And whenever he had the chance to leave his room, he took it. The nurses would always know he was coming because he would have his mom’s phone tucked into the side of his diaper, with Michael Jackson playing. His mom would push his IV pole around while Marlon danced.
Marlon is now just 4 years old, but his love of Michael Jackson has grown, if anything. He is “very passionate” about his favorite singer. “He was so adorable imitating MJ’s moves and you could tell he absolutely loves his music” says his wish grantor, Jan Hammond, after meeting him during his wish interview. He even offered her the chance to play the Michael Jackson Experience game on his Wii, which had already been replaced after he wore the first one out.
When asked what his one true wish would be, it was abundantly clear what would give him the most joy—he wanted a Michael Jackson themed party where he could dress up like his idol and dance to “Beat It.” His wish grantors then went to task putting together the Michael Jackson party of Marlon’s dreams. There was an MJ “glove painting” (read: cookie decorating) station, a disco ball piñata and a face painting station. And with the help of more than 30 dancers from the Travis Air Force Base, a Michael Jackson impersonator dazzled him with a choreographed medley of MJ’s hits, with costume changes to match. Marlon was captivated, and afterward the entire troupe posed for a picture with him. Says his mom, Melissa, “I’m just so grateful that his wish did come true because after all, he did ‘beat it.’