Nine year-old Peter thinks a robot is the ultimate gadget. And Peter loves gadgets. His fascination with robots came from seeing the movie “Real Steel” which featured robots that can mimic each other and fight. Peter couldn’t wait to have his own robot, which he nicknamed “RoBob,” so that he could walk around with it, have it mimic him, and “whenever I break something, I can blame it on the robot.” Peter now knows just how far that excuse goes. On June 13th, he not only got to meet RoBob in person, but he got to learn a little bit more about what makes him tick, so to speak, when he got a tour of Anybots, the Santa Clara based company that created him. Anybots creates virtual presence systems—robots that allow you to be present virtually in places where you can’t physically be. This is an important characteristic of his robotic alter ego, since Peter has missed countless days of school because of his medical condition.
Peter’s parents describe him as “a normal guy” who likes to play video games, enjoys playing football with his family and does well in school. But beginning at age 2, Peter’s congenital heart defect caused his heart to begin failing. While waiting for a transplant, his condition got to the point where his doctors induced a coma, and Peter had to be physically resuscitated. Next, his liver began failing, which threatened to postpone the heart transplant. After receiving a new heart, the two year-old then spent 100 days in the pediatric intensive care unit, and had to be retrained in how to walk. A few months later he broke his leg, causing another round of physical therapy and learning how to walk. On his 8th birthday, instead of celebrating with friends and a party, Peter was diagnosed with an adult form of lymphoma. Treatment was complicated by the medications he takes for his heart and for a lung condition he suffers from that makes it hard for his lungs to fight off infections.
But those things were far from his mind as he strapped his robot in with a seatbelt on the ride home from Anybots. Says his mom, Katharine, "Ever since Peter found out that getting his robot was a possibility, his whole outlook on treatment and, really his whole world, changed." To add icing to the cake, on the day of his wish, the Santa Clara Mayor’s office officially declared it “Peter Hanson & Make-A-Wish Day” in his honor.