Not once. Not twice. James went down the waterslide 20 times. “He had the best time ever,” exclaimed his mom Stephanie.
The waterslide at the hotel pool was just one of the many things James loved about his wish to go to Hawaii. During the trip, he and his family enjoyed a moonlight dinner cruise. It was a clear and balmy December evening, his mom recalled. The moon was full and the ocean was calm. James loves the ocean and his mom said that he couldn’t stop talking about it and even took time to teach his family about sharks. The biggest thrill, however, came when the crew handed him a cup of hot chocolate. That made his night complete.
“James was the ultimate tourist – he kicked back at the pool with a soda, he enjo
yed the fancy dinners, he loved the limousine that picked him up,” said his mom. “He enjoyed the plane ride and was almost speechless when he got to sit in the cockpit and meet the pilot.”
This trip comes at the end of a really long journey for James and his family. In May 2012, when he was just 10 years old, doctors diagnosed him with a rare nervous system disorder. The once active little boy could no longer swim, climb trees, play in the park or even play computer games. His mom said that by the time James had surgery in 2013, he required around-the-clock care. “It was really terrifying to him. It was very upsetting for all of us. But things feel normal now [after the surgery]. He can play video games again. He’s back to being a boy.”
His mom said that Make-A-Wish Oregon played a role in his road to recovery because the wish gave James something to look forward to – something to work toward. When things got hard, she would show him the giant Hawaii poster that his Make-A-Wish volunteers made for him. She said the poster, which was filled with beautiful photos of Hawaii, motivated James to work harder during therapy so that he could walk on the warm beach.
Today, James is doing really well. He still has the poster in his room as a reminder of how much fun he had on his wish. For his mom, seeing him happy and being together as a family meant a lot. “We spent so much time taking care of James; it was great to be cared for ourselves.”