Becoming a US Army Ranger is one of the hardest things a person can do. But Master Sergeant Alexander Barnett, who can march miles a day wearing a 50-pound pack and do more than 50 pushups per minute, thinks wish kid Riley, 14, can teach him a few things about being tough.
Barnett met Riley when he asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to see how the Rangers train. The 16-year Army veteran was often awed by the teen diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as he ran him through drills at Camp James E. Rudder, where the Rangers tackle the swamp phase of their training.
“I was shocked that he asked to do this,” Barnett told reporters. “He’s a city boy. He could’ve asked to go to the Super Bowl.”
Riley returns from a helicopter mission.
Watching movies like Black Hawk Down and Band of Brothers inspired Riley to research the physically and mentally exhausting training Rangers endure. That led him to the 6th Ranger Training Battalion. The secluded camp houses Ranger trainees and instructors during the final phase of their training.
Fortunately, Riley didn’t have to arrive like the other students: by parachute.
But that doesn’t mean his hosts planned for him to be a spectator. They started slowly, seeing how he reacted to challenges like crawling in mud and crossing a rope bridge in frigid water. They wanted to give him a sense of accomplishment and see how he far he wanted to push himself.
“We pushed him to the limit, and he was awesome,” said Master Sergeant Jose Marengo. “That boy’s got nothing to prove. He’s tough.”
Marengo didn’t even deduct points when Riley decided not to rappel.
“That was too scary,” Riley told The Bayonet, a newspaper covering Ft. Benning. “I just couldn’t do it.”
During his training Riley also floated through a swamp on a Zodiac inflatable boat and watched as 64 Rangers parachuted from a C-130 airplane at night. He also did a practice jump from a mockup of a C-130.
On graduation day at Fort Benning, Riley’s mother pinned the Ranger tab to the custom uniform the Rangers gave him. He recited the Ranger creed from memory. And he did his best to keep his eyes dry…along with his mentor, Marengo.
“I wasn’t the only one,” Marengo insisted.
When Colton was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in 2006, people in his community made one thing clear: He wouldn’t have to face the disease alone.
His teammates from the South Whidbey High School Falcons baseball team shaved their heads in support. Another teammate volunteered to DJ at a dance to raise money for Colton’s treatment. Other people from the community organized dunk tank fundraisers and fairs to provide a laptop for Colton so he could keep up in school.
Colton, now 16 and in remission from the rare form of cancer, didn’t forget those who helped him. When the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska, Montana, Northern Idaho and Washington offered to grant his one true wish, he chose a wish that would benefit his community: a complete renovation of his high school’s baseball field.
While the team took pride in its field, the school did not have the funds to update aged bleachers weathered by the frequent rains, purchase tarps to protect the infield, erect new fencing and make long-needed improvements to the batting cages and bullpens.
“I’ve been on a cruise, and I’ve been to Disneyland,” he told his local newspaper. “This would be way cooler than any trip, and it will last longer.”
When the Foundation spread the word of Colton’s amazing wish, people in his community of Langley and beyond wanted to help. By the end of the 2006-07 school year, local businesses and communities donated baseball equipment, new bleachers, weighted tarps and artificial turf for the batting cages and other areas. Jewelers for Children, a national organization of jewelers that supports children’s charities, also helped make Colton’s dream come true with a $6,500 donation. Barbara Walker, a member of the Pacific Northwest Jewelers Association and JFC supporter, also found local contractors willing to donate services and helped organize the June 2007 public unveiling of Colton’s wish.
Teammates, news reporters, volunteers and other supporters gathered to watch Colton throw out the ceremonial first pitch. His Falcons teammates were also thrilled to play an inning under the lights for the crowd. After the inning, the team invited the 300 people who attended to tour the field and practice facilities.
The night certainly had Colton excited to play ball again, and he’s in physical therapy to strengthen his leg so he can take his place in the varsity lineup. When he was diagnosed, he was batting .400 as a catcher on the junior varsity team.
Walker represented JFC at the event, presenting Colton with a watch as a keepsake of the baseball field’s debut.
“Being involved with this wish gave me a real opportunity to see a community bond,” Walker said. “Colton remembered all the support from his friends and neighbors, and he did something wonderful in sharing his wish with each of them. This just proves how a wish creates magic.”
That's why I think these calenders will do some good. It will raise money for the kids and at the same time it will show the general public that performance boaters really do care.
I would also like to put some photos of the Make-A-Wish kids on some boats, so if anyone has some nice shots please send them. They will be smaller insert pictures in the corner of the larger boat photos.
Fifteen-year-old Lauren knows the words to all the songs in Disney Channel’s original movie, “High School Musical.” But when her wish took her to meet the film’s cast and crew at the premiere of “High School Musical 2,” Lauren learned that her idols truly mean what they sing, “We’re all in this together.”
Lauren, who was diagnosed with ataxia ocular motor apraxia, a nervous system disorder, felt like a celebrity herself during her week-long wish in Anaheim, Calif. Her first glimpse of her small-screen heroes came at the “High School Musical 2” parade at the Disneyland® Resort. Disney provided Lauren and her family with special viewing, so she could join the chorus of thousands of screaming teenage girls during the parade. But she was about to do what most of the other fans could only dream about: enjoy a private meet-and-greet with the cast.
When Lauren entered the Napa Rose restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel®, she was delighted to find that it had been transformed into a headquarters for East High, the musical’s school home. Lauren took her seat at a table reserved especially for her, and it wasn’t long before Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens (starring as Troy and Gabriella in the movie) were seated beside her.
“Lauren was ecstatic and smiled ‘til her face almost split in half,” Lauren’s dad, Brian, said.
A parade of “High School Musical” stars followed Zac and Vanessa, each stopping at Lauren’s table to chat, take pictures and sign a star-struck Lauren’s autograph book. Hudgens penned “You’re so beautiful. Rock on Girl, Vanessa Hudgens.” And Efron, Lauren’s favorite, wrote “All my love, Thanx 4 Coming.”
Director Kenny Ortega chatted with Lauren and her sister and even gave Lauren his hat from the movie.
Even Kenny Ortega, the movie’s producer, director and choreographer, visited Lauren’s table. Lauren’s dad recalled, “He was so sincere almost to the point of tears. He took off his hat and said to Lauren, ‘Lauren, this is the first ‘High School Musical 2’ hat I have had, and I’m giving it to you.’ Then he signed it and put it on her head.”
With the smiles from the afternoon still lighting up her face, Lauren and her family were off to the next star-studded event: the “High School Musical 2” world premiere. Lauren was invited to walk the blue carpet (blue to match the movie’s summer theme), and the throngs of fans and media cheered loudly for her, just as they did for her famous new friends.
“Tears come to my eyes when I remember that moment – that for one moment in her life she got to feel so special, that people weren’t just looking at her because she is in a wheelchair, but they were clapping and saying ‘Yeah Lauren!’” Brian said.
All told, Lauren counted seeing 33 stars during the “High School Musical 2” premiere and post-premiere pool party. She went home with more photos and autographs than she could count and even more wonderful memories.
Following her wish, Lauren’s parents, Brian and Jenny, wrote a thank-you note to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and conveyed their sincere gratitude to Disney. “Each Disney person expressed such compassion, from the bellman at the Paradise Pier Hotel to the senior vice president, Kerry Chandler…I was so impressed,” Brian said. “August 14 was a day that we will talk about for the rest of our lives.”
This year, Thanksgiving held immense joy for 6-year-old Alyson and her family. This sweet little girl’s wish – to have a holiday shopping spree at Macy’s in New York City – came true. And Macy’s even treated Alyson to an extra surprise – VIP seats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Alyson, who along with her twin sister, Andrea, has cystic fibrosis, wished to travel with her family to New York for Thanksgiving week.
For Alyson, a holiday shopping spree at Macy’s was a dream come true. She wanted to be sure wish-granting volunteers knew Macy’s was her favorite store, so she wrote it down for them and underlined it several times. Employees at Macy’s flagship Herald Square store got Alyson’s message; they were ready to welcome her with a personal shopper when she arrived for her shopping spree.
But Alyson loves more about Macy’s than just the shopping: Watching the Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade on television is a Thanksgiving-morning tradition in her family – a tradition that she was able to live out in person this year when she and her family took their seats along the famous parade route.
Alyson and her family enjoyed VIP seats for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Macy’s also surprised Alyson with a rare behind-the-scenes look at the parade staging area. Alyson saw the final touches being added to the famous floats and watched her favorite balloon characters come to life as crews filled them with helium.
Alyson’s wish week was filled with the excitement of holiday shopping at Macy’s, the magic of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the thrill of seeing a spectacular city at its finest. And most of all, it gave Alyson and her family memories befitting the Thanksgiving holiday — memories of blessings and joy.
JB What a great idea why not start with some of the old sponsors from the run and see if they will kick in a few bucks,
Also I like the idea that Tex P has, why not say for a min donation of $25.00 plus postage you will get an awesome calender. Obviousy time is of the essence if you need my help contacting some people I will do so.
Yes Donna, That is what we will do...a min donation of $25.00 plus postage. We are selling add space on the calender. What do you think of $300 per company logo?
Will also have a page for names so if there is individuals that would like to be donors they will be on there as well.
They will be 12 months but will start in in Feb. and go to Jan. instead of Dec.
I'll take all the help I can get on this thing, it will be a OSO group effort.
Remember ALL of the profits will go directly to Make-A-Wish
Besides the calanders for the money part, has anybody thought about doing the rides? I would really love to be able to give some of these kids rides just to see their faces. Is anybody looking to do something like this?
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