Every wish granted is special and cherished. But 12-year-old Tyler’s wish had the extra distinction of being the 9,000th wish granted in the metro New York area! His wish echoed the joy of thousands of children’s wishes before his, while looking forward to many, many more wishes.
Wish-granting volunteers: Norma Blank & Jeanne Casinover
Tyler is diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, however, he prefers to be considered a soccer player rather than a patient. Therefore, his most sincere wish was to meet the New York Red Bulls! Tyler and his mom, dad, brother, and friend/soccer teammate went to the Red Bulls’ final practice before their big game against the LA Galaxy. After watching the intense workout, Tyler joined French World Cup star Thierry Henry and assistant coach Mike Petke on the field to get a little practice in himself. He did passing drills and scored goals off assists from Henry before meeting the rest of the team over lunch in their player lounge, where he collected player autographs – and even gave out his own to a player who asked for it! The next night, Tyler saw the Red Bulls in action against the Galaxy – a game the Red Bulls won 2:0. He even helped the goalie coach warm up his reserve goalie on field before the game!
Having his wish granted means the world to Tyler, who says that every part of the experience was his favorite part…but maybe warming the team up before their game was the best! Afterwards he exclaimed, “Thank god they won!” He is relieved his warm up did not slow the team down! Spending time with his favorite athletes was so exciting for Tyler, but he also confides, “It means a lot that my doctors and family and friends wanted me to have fun, rather than just saying that sitting in a hospital bed with nothing to do but watch TV is best for me.”
While everyone – mom, dad, and doctors – constantly make decisions for Tyler concerning his health and well being, his mom says it was amazing for Tyler to make a choice about what he wanted all for himself. She reports that not a day goes by that Tyler does not talk about his wish experience. And she describes how the wish has impacted the entire family. It brought the family together in a much more pleasant way, without doctors and hospitals and medicine, and even converted Tyler’s older brother into a soccer fan – drawing the boys even closer together!
Everyone who was a part of Tyler’s wish experience was touched. Red Bulls assistant coach, Mike Petke took time to express his thoughts, saying, “I hope that I helped him take his mind off of his situation, even for a few minutes…I had such a wonderful, emotional and gratifying day and I will never forget Tyler or his family.” While Tyler presented the entire team with a picture he drew of them as a token of his appreciation, the real gift for all involved was getting to see Tyler’s pure joy, as seen in his beautiful smile!
Wish story writer: Ryan Reichel