Eleven-year-old Collin stared down at the packet in his hands, his eyes gleaming and wearing a big smile. He was studying the itinerary for his wish, a trip to San Diego. Overwhelmed with excitement, he cuddled up with the itinerary and went to bed, dreaming of the exciting adventure ahead of him.
This wouldn’t be Collin’s first trip to San Diego—but it would be his first time returning to have fun at the local theme parks rather than to receive treatment for his heart condition. When Collin’s mother, Paula, had learned he was going to be born with heart complications, she made the decision to give birth in San Diego. This was the beginning of many trips the family would make to Rady Children’s Hospital; over the span of the eleven years, Collin would need four heart surgeries and a number of doctors’ appointments.
During their visits to the hospital, Paula would often stay with Collin while his dad and brother explored the area. As he socialized and bonded with the hospital staff who cared for him during his recovery, he would also wait to hear the stories his brother would tell him about the adventures he and his dad had. Although he longed to share those moments with them, he never gave up hope. He knew that someday when he got better he and his family would go back for the adventure of a lifetime.
Through it all, Paula kept detailed notes and took photos during each hospital trip to document Collin’s medical journey. She turned these into photo books that Collin now carries with him everywhere he goes, telling the people he meets about the incredible people who saved his life and the challenges he has overcome.
This gratitude and passion for people carries over to his daily life here in Hawaii. He finds joy in being around others and even volunteers his time at local retirement homes, sharing stories and showing his photo books to the residents. This loving and appreciative nature ended up being a driving factor that led him to wish to go back to San Diego. “His wish is really to see people,” Paula described.
When Collin met with his wish granters, there was no hesitation. He wished to go back to San Diego to visit the hospital staff who had cared for him and to have fun with his family.
“It was really special to go to Rady Children’s Hospital to see my nurses and doctors to show them how well I was,” Collin wrote in a thank you letter to Make-A-Wish Hawaii.
While visiting Rady Children’s Hospital, Collin showed his medical team the photo albums that he and his mom kept—starting before his birth. Making the experience even more special, Collin’s wish coincided with his 12th birthday, allowing him to celebrate a significant milestone with the people who’d been there since the very beginning.
“To see him grown up – it gives you the energy and the enthusiasm to do things for others,” John Lamberti, MD, a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at Rady Children’s, told Fox5.
And, of course, Collin also finally got to explore San Diego and go on adventures of his own. “I liked all of the places in San Diego like the roller coaster ride at Sea World where I said ‘ahhhhhhh!’” he described.
Collin’s experience is an example of how a wish can impact not only a child, but everyone involved at every stage of a wish. “The wish was very special for our family to know that a great organization like Make-A-Wish has a big impact on these critically ill kids and our family,” said Paula. “We are just survivors trying to take it one day at a time, one appointment at a time, and knowing that people can make a child feel even more special is magical!”