The 8 Most Badass Make-A-Wish Foundation Wishes
Since its inception in 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has been responsible for granting the wishes of thousands of children with life threatening illnesses all across the United States. While the vast majority of wishes involve taking vacations, meeting celebrities or going to Disneyland, occasionally kids go off-prompter, and things get awesome. For example ...
Sam Gets the Big-League Treatment
Like so many other young boys who enjoy standing around doing nothing for hours at a time, 11-year-old Sam loved to play baseball. However, in recent years, neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects the nervous system, had tragically left him unable to take the field with his team. Despite his illness, Sam wanted a place to watch and cheer on his friends, leading to his wish for a baseball field to be built in his backyard.
"Just the field. You can keep Kevin Costner."
And it worked. The community got together and totally Field of Dreams'ed the shit out of little Sam and built a baseball field. Such an enormous task required help and donations from numerous sources. First, grounds crews from the University of Mississippi and Itawamba Community College dedicated hundreds of hours to the project. Next, numerous local groups donated, among other things, sod, fencing, a backstop, an irrigation system and a scoreboard.
It's actually nicer than where the Oakland A's play.
Sam chose 18 friends for him to manage, and on the day of the grand opening, a police-escorted limo drove him to the field where a crowd of hundreds cheered him on. Brought in to face Sam's team was a local junior varsity team -- all of whom must have just felt like dicks.
"What do you mean, 'No trash talking'?"
Before the game, a local neighbor belted out "The Star Spangled Banner." Soon after, 370 fans cheered Sam and his team on as they took the field while the opening theme from Rocky blared. Sam threw out the first pitch, and the game was on. A local sports announcer called the action as donated snacks and drinks circled the stands.
Sam's club picked up the 11-6 victory in a hard fought battle, and anyone in Sam's neighborhood is now free to use that field whenever they want.
It's a good thing he wasn't a NASCAR fan.
Craig Gets More Than He Asked For
Some people are simply born with the spirit of a warrior. They need to win. If Michael Jordan was content with just being a good basketball player -- if he wasn't obsessed with success -- then he'd never be Michael Jordan. Donald Trump doesn't just want money; he wants all the money, and he wants everyone's attention, now and forever, and that's what makes him Donald Trump (and also terrible). It's the warrior spirit that separates Achilles from other soldiers. In 1989, 9-year-old Craig Shergold had such a spirit. He was suffering from a brain tumor, but he didn't just want a few get-well cards. He wanted every last one on the planet. Shergold wanted to win.
"Bring it, other sick kids."
You might have even heard of Shergold. He was the subject of a massive chain letter campaign, wherein he wished for as many people as possible to send him get-well cards so as to get more cards than anyone else had ever gotten. In a seemingly insignificant detail that will become important later in the story (that's called foreshadowing, ladies and gents) this is the only wish on the list that wasn't granted by the actual Make-A-Wish foundation, which note on their website, we do not participate in these kinds of wishes.
Seeing nothing ominous in that policy, the similar Children's Wish Foundation stepped in like the "cool" parent and made Craig's wish happen. The chain letter became a smash hit, and by the end of 1991, Craig had shattered the Guinness World Record with 35 million get-well cards having been sent to the boy's home in Britain.
In a mini-miracle, a rich businessman took notice of Craig's wish adventure and contacted him about covering the cost of his surgery. Craig received proper surgery soon after the record was reached, and is still alive and healthy today. With the record beaten and cancer gone, Craig officially announced he wished for the cards to stop. Wow, way to go, mankind!
The boy survived, but dozens of mailmen threw their backs out.
Then shit got nuts. It turns out there's a reason the Make-A-Wish foundation doesn't traffic in chain letters. Millions of them were already out there being circulated, and they didn't disappear with Craig's cancer. The wonderful people who sent get-well cards didn't stop forwarding them to other wonderful people, no matter how much Craig and his family told the public, "We're good over here, you can stop now! Seriously it's getting hard to breath in here." Eventually, Craig's family abandoned their home, unable to tolerate the daily volume of mail. With an address that was no longer current, the post office quickly grew wise and began forwarding any Children's Wish Foundation related mail to the company headquarters in Phoenix. Eventually, the company had to begin storing them in a massive holding-area staffed by 40 volunteers -- just enough to handle the 300,000 messages received each week. Hey, slow down, mankind!
By 1993, over 100 million cards made their way to the warehouse. Some were just standard get-well cards, and at least one was creepily addressed "To the Boy Who Is Sick in the Hospital, in Arizona, or Colorado." Whoa, holy shit, at least learn the kid's name and where he is, mankind!
"Can't stop to read! MUST SEND MORE LETTERS!"
Gilligan Gets Off the Island
Gilligan's Island was abruptly cancelled after its third season in 1967, leaving Gilligan and crew trapped on the island with no real conclusion to their predicament. The viewer was left to assume that they'd died there after having resorted to cannibalism, or maybe they'd stayed there a few years until the Skipper went crazy and tried to unplug the island in an attempt to release pure evil into the world and undo existence before getting stopped by the Professor and Sideways Ginger.
Although a series of movies were released after the fact -- including one with the goddamn Harlem Globetrotters -- they went mostly unseen, and in most people's minds, Gilligan was stuck on that island forever.
For some reason, people didn't want to watch this.
And some people were happy to accept this, but those people are awful. A group of Make-A-Wish children in 1992 decided to crank their badass levels up to 11, get on a cruise ship and rescue Gilligan. These little champions never leave a man behind, even if he is fictional.
And responsible for getting a whole boat full of innocent people stranded.
For one day, Gilligan actor Bob Denver donned his classic red shirt and white hat and parked down on a deserted island off the coast of West Virginia. Make-A-Wish officials alerted the sick children aboard the West Virginia Bell -- renamed the S.S. Minnow for that day -- that Gilligan was still out there and needed their help. Soon, the children took off to "save" him.
When they'd reached the island, the children spotted Gilligan, who quickly hopped on board and spent the rest of the day signing autographs and playing games with the children. So there you have it. Next time you find yourself sad that Gilligan never made it off the island, realize that he totally did -- it just took 25 years, and presumably everyone else died.
Or were eaten.
Enzo Says "Too Late"
6-year-old Enzo's wish started innocently enough. He wanted to spend the afternoon with "celebrity" chef Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa. The young boy, suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, would often watch Garten's show while sick in his bed. Enzo's wish simply involved meeting with the chef and cooking one of the Contessa's many French dishes with her. No big deal, right?
She told the kid no.
Enzo was told to try again later that year due to a book tour conflict. On his next attempt to reach the cooking star, he was given an answer of "definite no" from Contessa's PR team, who are all apparently awful at their jobs. "Barefoot Contessa? More like Piece-of-Shit-You're-a-Bitch Contessa," Enzo probably never said.
He's much more polite than we are.
Enzo was devastated by the news that his favorite chef had turned him down, and his family quickly turned to the Web to air their displeasure. In a blog post earlier this year, Enzo's mom noted that her son had wanted to meet the chef for the past three years, and had publicly wondered, "Why doesn't she want to meet me?" We're very sorry to everyone else who entered, but we officially have a winner for saddest thing ever.
No doubt thrilled by the easiest news story of all time, nearly every major news group hopped on the story, and soon the Contessa found herself the number one enemy of people who support sick children over millionaire chefs. ABC News noted that the refusal was out of step with the much more charity-friendly image she put out in public.
And here she is wearing shoes. Do her lies know no end?
In a panic move, Contessa contacted Enzo and personally invited him to join her. He would get to cook with her just like he wanted all along! No big deal, right?
He told the lady no.
"I've moved on to Rachael Ray."
See, Enzo had spent the weeks since his rejection doing two things: booking a different wish and being sick of the Barefoot Contessa's bullshit. He alerted the chef that her apologies were too little too late, and instead of cooking a simple meal with a terrible person, decided he was going to go out and swim with some motherfucking dolphins. Nice upgrade, Enzo.
Erik Flips Off Animal Rights Organizations
Now, before you fly to the comment section to complain, you should know that the bear was a Kodiak brown bear that was in season in Alaska at the time. Make-A-Wish prepared all the proper paperwork and permits to make the hunt go through. It was during this bureaucratic period that numerous animal rights groups leaped into action, trying to stop the trip.
Heidi Prescott, director of the Fund for Animals -- and someone who frequently misses the point -- offered Erik a camera so that he could take a picture of a bear instead of killing it. Pierce Brosnan, a terrible actor, invited Erik and his family to the film set of Dante's Peak if Erik would call off the hunt. In a move that should shock no one, Erik declined both offers.
"I got all the Brosnan I could handle in the GoldenEye game."
As the big trip grew nearer, activist groups began to place more and more pressure on Make-A-Wish to stop the hunt. Groups held protests and inundated the Minnesota branch handling the wish with angry phone calls and letters. But, come on, this kid is actively dealing with a bear and a fucking brain tumor; what chances do your puny letters stand?
Ultimately, the attempts to stop the trip failed. One early morning, without warning, the boy, his father and their hunting guide took off to an undisclosed location in Alaska to hunt the bear. The results of the trip were never released, and honestly it doesn't really matter. The real point of the trip was for Erik to spend one last weekend with his family doing what he loved most. He got that.
"You only get one bullet, son. Then it's just you, the bear and a bowie knife."
Although Make-A-Wish chose to stay away from hunting wishes after the PR disaster this one brought, another organization soon stepped in to fill their place. Hunt of a Lifetime now fulfills all the animal-killing wishes sick kids can handle. We doubt they care too much what animal activists think.
So if you're sick and want to go out fighting rhinos with a machete, they're your best bet.
Ben Makes a Cancer-Fighting Game
9-year-old Ben was having difficulty combating the nasty side effects of chemotherapy needed to fight leukemia. Instead of just sitting around and moping about his struggles, he decided to turn the tables and challenge cancer to a duel on his terms: Ben wished for a video game, starring himself, that was all about beating the shit out of invading cancer cells.
That wish was made with the stipulation that Electronic Arts have nothing to do with it.
Ben's trouble's caught the attention of LucasArts game designer Eric Johnston who, inspired by Ben's story, convinced LucasArts to donate their facilities for use after hours. After six months of working together, Ben and Eric released Ben's Game in 2004. In the free downloadable game, users play as a character modeled after Ben as they "zoom around on a skateboard" and fight cancerous cells, battle monsters and stave off the negative effects of chemotherapy. It's Ben's little way of saying "Sure, in the hospital cancer puts up a good fight, but in the game, I'm kicking its ass and also I have a skateboard."
"Who's laughing now, cancer?"
Because Ben is a better person than anyone reading or writing for this website could ever hope to be, he specifically designed the game to help other children with cancer, not just himself. Ben's Game is installed in hospitals all across the world and available for download. Ben created a way for young cancer patients to deal with their chemotherapy in a way that was fun and accessible. At 9 years old. Download it here.
It's great for sick kids and bored college students trying to ignore the lecture.
Ezra Gets the L33t Treatment
While many players of Blizzard's World of Warcraft see the game as an outlet to another world, few needed it as much as 10-year-old Ezra Chatterton, who had spent several years battling a brain tumor. Ezra long wished to play WoW, but his father refused due to the family not being able to afford a proper computer or account. That all changed when Ezra's house tragically burned down and all his toys were destroyed. In response, a computer (and a new house) was purchased, and Ezra and his father quickly took to bonding as they journeyed through Azeroth together.
"Look, son! An orc tea-bagging a night elf!"
Blizzard soon caught word of the both tragic and wonderful story of their game bringing a struggling family together and quickly partnered with Make-A-Wish to bring Ezra to their main office in California in 2007 for a day of fun and adventure.
Ezra received a tour of the company, but his real reward came in helping the design team create a series of content for the game: most notably a character named Ahab Wheathoof, voiced by Ezra. Ahab sends the player on a quest to rescue his lost dog -- an animal based on Ezra's pet dog.
Apparently Ezra's dog could viciously murder you.
The fun didn't stop there, however, as later in the day Ezra's character was increased to the then maximum level of 70. He was also given a ton of gold and, most awesomely, limited exclusive rights to the Ashes of Al'ar -- a super rare phoenix mount added to the game that day.
One day, science will be able to engineer real flaming birds to help sick kids.
The last thing Ezra did before heading home was receive temporary admin power, in-game. While he may have been weak in our world, for a short time he was the most powerful character alive in Azeroth. Ezra used his newfound powers to obliterate some of the newest, toughest enemies the game had to offer like it wasn't even a thing. In the years to come, Blizzard would donate $1.1 million and $800,000 directly to Make-A-Wish.
Better known by Blizzard as "22 minutes worth of profit" and "16 minutes worth of profit."
Erik Becomes a Superhero
For his wish, 13-year-old Erik wanted to become a superhero.
A few days later, Spider-Man called asking for his help. Spidey alerted Erik that the dreaded Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy, a new supervillain duo (played by Edgar Hansen and Jake Anderson from The Deadliest Catch), were terrorizing the people of Seattle. They'd captured the Seattle Sounders MLS team and were holding them hostage in their own locker room. Spider-Man explained that he was busy, and he knew that Erik was really just the secret identity of the superhero Electron Boy, so he begged Eric for his help in saving the day.
He also gave Eric a DeLorean. Because Spider-Man is the shit.
Eric got into costume. He got his magic lightning rod. And he was ready for action.
After being escorted to the stadium, Erik met with fellow hero Lightning Lad, who instructed him to free the soccer players by blasting open the locker room doors with his lightning rod. The Sounders were free, and everyone was celebrating on the field when the Jumbotron POPPED to life with a message from Dr. Dark.
Who apparently has an IV bag of evil.
Dark explained that he and Blackout Boy had positioned themselves at Puget Sound Electric and were holding one of its employees hostage. Erik was off to battle again, riding alongside 20 police officers, as well as over a thousand Seattle citizens who spent all day cheering on the young boy wherever he went.
Congratulations, Erik, you win at childhood.
After freeing the hostage, Erik's big day ended with a climactic showdown with Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy at the Space Needle. Upon seeing the two villains, Electron Boy attacked with his lightning rod, freezing both of them in their tracks. The police apprehended the villains and the day was saved!
Soon after the event, City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw claimed the day to be "Electron Boy Day." When asked for comment, Erik responded, "This is the best day of my life."
We've never looked that cool doing anything.
And that's what wishing is all about.
To contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, click here.
Matthew Culkin is a junior English major at Tulane University. Reach him for comment or writing opportunity at MRCulkin@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter.
See more bad ass kids check out 6 Images of Kids Too Insane to Be Real (That Totally Are) and 8 Child Prodigies So Amazing They'll Ruin Your Day.
Check out the audiobook of Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon's YA novel The Giant Smugglers with a 30-day free trial of Audible!