So I have been so antsy to share this and no internet! I'm so excited to share this now. The story is long but definitely worth it.
A couple of months ago a gentleman, Tom, contacted A Special Wish to sponsor a wish. He was participating in the Kentucky Ironman. Very similar to the Team In Training idea.
One day Tom stops by to drop off the check after the race and asks if the little boy in the letter would really receive his money or was it just a form letter. I assure him that Jesse is a real little boy and cute as a button at that. Tom pulls out his Ironman medal and says that he would really just like to have a picture of Jesse in his medal. "I ran this just for him," he says. Jesse was free to keep the medal as well. That medal took lots of blood, sweat, and tears to sound cliche... but I'm so impressed with Tom's generousity. So I ask if he wants to meet Jesse. Jesse's family had approved being sponsored so I already knew they were open to this. Tom loves the idea. We work it out that Tom and his family will meet Jesse and his family at the airport to welcome them back from their trip. Tom is now beaming.
After I hear the elevator close, I'm beaming and start gathering Jesse's information to contact his mother and share this with her. I hear the elevator bing and here comes Tom. He's still smiling from ear to ear. He says that since we're going to do this, he's coming back with stuff for Jesse and his siblings to do on the plane and stuff to play on the beach with. He has a couple of days to gather the items; the family will pick up their itinerary on Thursday. He's obviously getting pretty revved up about this and so are we! I'm the only ASW person in the office at this time so I have to run across the hall to gush to a hospital employee, she's thrilled as well.
A day or so later Tom shows up with a big duffle bag full of snacks, toys, and sports equipment. We chat some more and learn more about Tom's motivation, I may get a couple of details wrong but this is the story as I recall. Tom's a UPS guy. A couple of years ago he and his family moved into a new house. There was a little boy who lived across the street named Spencer. Everyday Spencer would wave at Tom and Tom would wave back. Spencer probably loved the UPS guy just like all little kids. Tom never took the time to stop and talk to Spencer, he was always getting to work or some place else important. One day Spencer was no longer there. He died of cancer. Spencer's parents are still struggling with their loss 4 years later, as I'm sure they will forever. Tom still regrets that he never took the time to stop and "smell the roses" as he said. From my point of view, the wave was probably great for Spencer and Tom need not carry the guilt. But that's easy judgement from an outsider. So after he tells this story, I can't help myself.
I say, "The family is coming in tomorrow why don't you stop in?"
"Oh I don't know. We're mighty busy at UPS with the holidays. I'm not sure I can get away." Which I completely understand and don't fault him in the least. So I suggest that I move the family back in the day as much as I can. I'll give him a call during the day to give him a time frame. If he can make it great, if not no harm done. I'll just pass along his gifts for him.
So Thursday comes along and Jesse and his mom show up as planned. I call Tom and he says yep, he's on his way. I cover the details of Jesse's Disney trip while we wait. When the elevator bings, here comes Tom, his wife and 2 girls. A beautiful amazing family. Each family exchanges greetings, gifts, and stories. After posing for some pictures, we are starting to wrap somethings up and someone askes Jesse's mom why they wanted to travel over Christmas day. She then relays Jesse's story. Last year at Christmas Jesse was diagnosed. Obviously it was the worst Christmas for their family ever. After a long year of treatments and hospital stays, their family just needed to form good Christmas memories to block the others out. By now not one of us in the room isn't blubbering. And thanks to Tom and A Special Wish they are doing just that right now... their flight left yesterday.