In honor of our 35th Anniversary in 2019, we will be focusing on some of the more than 8,500 wishes we have granted in our history. Here is an update on a wish we granted back in 2015.
When Parker learned he was eligible for a wish, his initial response was to panic.
“A lot of people’s initial perception, including mine, is that if you qualify for Make-A-Wish, then you are dying,” says Parker. Once he learned a little more about Make-A-Wish, however, Parker’s perception changed. “Wow,” he remembers thinking, “they just want to help people. They want to change lives.”
Parker’s genetic condition led him to require a liver transplant at age 16. “Parker had a really rough time with his medical issues,” recalls his mom, Karen. “His transplant had complications requiring a second extensive surgery. He missed school. He lost friends. And it was impossible for any of his friends to really relate to or understand what Parker was going through.”
She says Parker was dejected and depressed following the surgeries, but that the wish “gave him hope. It gave him something to anticipate and it made him feel special and important.” Parker loves sports and initially hoped to golf with Rory McIlroy. But after learning he could only do a meet-and-greet with McIlroy and offered another choice, he immediately said “Go to Lambeau and meet the Packers!”
For Parker, the excitement started to build on the day he learned his wish would come true. With the help of Make-A-Wish volunteers, his family and friends threw a big surprise party at the family home to let him know he would be headed to Green Bay. “It was pretty special,” says Parker. “And my favorite memory outside of the actual wish.”
In October 2015, they set off on what Karen describes as “the best vacation experience we have ever had as a family. This is a trip we will be talking about for the rest of our lives.” The trip was packed full of special touches, from the limo ride to the airport, to the amazing accommodations at a hotel with an indoor water park, to the fun gifts and souvenirs. Parker was able to attend a team practice and even stood in the end zone to take a picture with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
A memorable moment came when Parker was able to join some of his favorite players—Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and Randall Cobb—for lunch and share his story with them. “They asked about him,” says Karen. “They told him he was their hero. They showed genuine concern for this teenager from Walnut Creek, California.”
“The entire experience was surreal,” says Parker. “I felt like I had stepped into a whole new world and was in a dream.”
For Karen, the best part was getting a break from the stress of hospitals, insurance, setbacks, and other medical issues. “Wishes take all the pressure off the family!” she says. “We didn’t have to do anything but pack and show up! To know that everything is taken care of by Make-A-Wish provides a tremendous sense of relief.”
Today, Parker is a senior at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California, where he majors in Sports Management. He is also a manager for the men’s basketball team and enjoys watching sports and movies in his spare time. Parker is now five years post-treatment and feeling the best he has ever felt. He’s excited to graduate in spring 2020 and hopes to find a job in the sports world.
“My wish solidified my dream of wanting to work in sports,” says Parker. “It changed my life because my passion for sports grew so much bigger! I credit Make-A-Wish with helping me see my dreams more clearly.”
Stories like Parker’s could not happen without the support of our volunteers! Volunteers are essential to our commitment to bring hope, strength, and joy to children battling life-threatening illnesses. Ready to get started? Click here to submit a volunteer inquiry form.