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Wish Blog

Sep 26, 2017

Mateo's Wish to Help Animals

high five
Nine-year-old Mateo, who is battling a brain tumor, traveled from his home in Virginia to New York City (in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic chapter) to be an ASPCA volunteer for two days.

Mateo's mother Jimena was not surprised that Mateo would use his wish to make a difference. When he was just 5 or 6 years old, her son would cry when the ASPCA commercials played on TV. 

petting kitty

Mateo’s mother saw a big change in her son on the day of his wish. It was a busy day that started with a tour of the facility from ASPCA President and CEO, Matthew Bershadker, included a game of cat and mouse with Charleston (the cat), and walking Gumpy, a rescue dog from Houston, displaced due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

Walking Gumpy

"He has ADD because of the chemo," explained Jimena, "(but) you can see that this (experience) definitely left an impression. He's usually very tired, but here he wanted to talk to everyone and let them know this happened. It's been two days (of volunteering), and he's still full of energy. It's like he's completely forgotten about chemo and there is no ADD. He's enjoying this so much. He struggles to stay focused in class but not right now. It's a rare time he's fully attentive," beams Jimena.

After lunch the attention turned to the care center, where animals who have suffered through traumatic experiences receive tender love and care through play and socialization. One of Mateo's most enjoyable experiences was with Ocarina, a hound mix. He picked a book, and read it to Ocarina, cover to cover. This was remarkable to his mother.


"Because of his brain tumor it's difficult for him to read," she explained. "And he's tired after a long day. He was yawning but he kept reading! I don't know how long it's been since he's read this long in one sitting."

As much as Mateo enjoyed the dogs, it was kitten time! When he hears the word cat, Mateo's face lights up instantly. He fed, caressed, and played with kittens as young as mere weeks old, some that fit in the palm of his hand. He even got to name one... Tyra. 

Mateo with Trya

In an unexpected twist, the ASPCA staff member who was helping him with Tyra whispered to Mateo that she herself was a wish kid. She recounted to us how much it helped her and her mother get through her tough time. Her go-to therapy growing up was working with animals, which led her to the ASPCA, and on this particular day, helping with Mateo's wish.

Jimena is certain that this wish has given her son the hope and power of positivity to heal and continue to do good in the world. She thinks that one day, Mateo could have his own ASPCA chapter.

By the way, Monday night the family attended their first ever Broadway show.

Which one?


Only fitting.

Make-A-Wish aims to grant the wishes of children with life threatening illnesses. Our goal is "every eligible child": through we grant hundreds of wishes per year, many wish kids are still waiting for their one true wish to become a reality. This becomes possible through volunteers and donations.

Wishes are exclusively granted by volunteers. To learn more and to become a volunteer:

To donate and help grant the wishes of children like Mateo:

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