For 18-year-old Payton, his Make-A-Wish experience didn't just fulfill his dream of surfing in Hawaii, it showed him that he has the power to beat cancer and helped him take control of his illness. Below, in a speech he made to guests at Wish Ball, Make-A-Wish Oregon's annual gala, Payton describes the impact the wish had on him and his family.
"I was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in July 2014. Make-A-Wish Oregon made my dream of surfing on a warm beach in Hawaii and swimming with turtles a reality. When Make-A-Wish Oregon granted my wish, I didn’t realize the impact it would have. Not only on me, but on everyone around me that was part of the wish.
In fact, a month before I went to Hawaii, Alaska Airlines treated me to a surprise visit with my favorite football player. My family and I got to ride on the Alaska Airlines float in the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. I even got to meet both pilots who would fly me to Maui for my wish.
Everyone I met along the way was so supportive and generous. Their willingness to help and work together is what makes a wish happen. And it’s an amazing moment of hope that has lasting effects. The thought of going to Hawaii kept me strong when being strong was the last thing I wanted to be. It kept me going because I had a real end-point and a goal. Treatment was never fun, but I always had something to look forward to. My wish gave me something else to focus on other than cancer. And that dream of what was to come kept me fighting.
So I am here to thank you for being a part of Make-A-Wish Oregon. The work you all do with your support truly is magic."