Every day before his diagnosis, 14-year-old wish kid TJ would sit down in front of his TV and get lost in a world of gaming.
When his older brothers Brandon and Chase weren’t working, they were home competing with TJ in the latest video game or “just hanging out.” Life was simple and good for the tight knit family … and then came the diagnosis.
In October of 2014, life as TJ’s family knew it would forever change when an MRI revealed that he had a Brain Stem Tumor. “Everything stopped when we found out,” recalled Jocelyn, TJ’s mom.
His condition called for intense radiation treatment to shrink the tumor. And soon, TJ began experiencing major seizures that eventually landed him in the pediatric intensive care unit on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. There, he spent his entire Christmas and New Year’s. He eventually came to and was able to go home, along with a nurse and medical equipment. It was an extremely difficult time, but they kept on fighting. They knew a very special and unique wish was to come that would lift TJ’s spirits.
With the help of Wall-To-Wall Studios, HONBLUE and many gifted anime artists, Make-A-Wish Hawaii was able to bring TJ’s story to life when we granted his wish to be a SUPERHERO in his own anime series.
An entire community came together to give TJ and his family something to remember forever. Each talented artist recruited by Wall to Wall drew a comic book cover featuring their own interpretation of TJ – and in each piece of artwork, he was depicted as a Superhero.
“We can turn to TJ’s passion for anime to bring out the same sense of overwhelming enthusiasm and youthful bewilderment. What could be more fulfilling than an epic battle against a hundred mutated humanoid cockroaches (Terra Formars)? Would he emerge victorious after challenging a village of adolescent ninja warriors (Naruto)? Can we count on TJ to defend the human race from evil spirits (Bleach)?” said Chris, one of TJ’s wish granters. “These are some of TJ’s self-proclaimed favorites, both endlessly entertaining and disconnected from his reality—until now.”
As he sat in his living room watching a video with encouraging messages from the artists, with his wish granters, balloons and happy wish day signs surrounding him, TJ began to cry. In that moment, he felt the outpouring of love from his community. There were so many people who were inspired by his story and wanted to bring him joy through his one true passion.
“We are so touched that the community came together to make TJ’s wish come true,” said Jaret, TJ’s dad, with tears rolling down his face.
Although TJ continues to battle his nemesis, cancer, he knows he has the support of an entire community behind him. No longer do these anime enthusiasts look to Goku, Naruto or Ichiko as the strongest of heroes – today, they recognize TJ as the bravest warrior of them all.
TJ has become a SUPERHERO not only in his own story, but in the eyes of an entire community.
And his comic series continues with a website created in his honor where artists are invited to submit covers inspired by his story.
Special Thanks: Wall to Wall Studios, HONBLUE, Auntie Pasto’s, Roy Bann, Michael Cannon, Roy Chang, Audra Furuichi, Mark Gould, Sarah Kashiwabara, Dana Kojima, Andy Lee, Bodin Marsinkul, Ming Qi Vinci, Catherine Mondoy, Jon Murakami, Devin Oishi, John Pinches, Michelle Taguchi, Tara Tamayori, Greg Usam, Valentino Valdez, Marjie Vina, Adrienne Wilson, Christopher Tokeshi, Raphael Raman, Kari Bogner and Landen Tsuda.