For 7-year-old Atlas, the fantasy universe of Lord of the Rings provides an escape from the realities of his fight with cystic fibrosis. He is fascinated by the hobbits in the J.R.R. Tolkien series in particular; perhaps it’s their unique little houses built into the hills, or their tiny frames and disproportionately big feet.
Whatever the reason, Atlas’s love for these quirky characters was evident from the first time his wish granters met him. Aside from his other hobbies, like going to the water park and climbing trees, one of Atlas’s favorite pastimes is playing Lord of the Rings games. There was no doubt that Atlas’s most heartfelt wish was to go to Hobbiton in New Zealand to see where the hobbits live.
“I love the little people…Hobbiton is a cool place to go,” wrote Atlas in a letter explaining the inspiration behind his wish. “Please make my wish come true.”
Wish parents Jonathan and Meredith knew Atlas’s wish would make an incredible impact on their entire family. Ever since he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at just two weeks old, the family has coped with frequent doctor visits, hours of physical therapy each day, numerous daily medications, and the occasional hospital stay.
“We try to live as normal a life as possible, but that can be hard to do at times,” said Jonathan. “As a family, it means a lot to have an organization like Make-A-Wish with people that are dedicated to volunteering their time or their resources to show these kids, ‘You’re a normal kid.’”
While Atlas waited to find out if his wish would come true, he kept dreaming of where the hobbits live, of their “houses in the hills” of New Zealand, their “round doors,” and “cool things.”
Atlas’s wish was soon revealed during our annual Give Wishes Wings radiothon, which raises funds to grant waiting summer wishes. Our local television news partner, KITV-4, captured Atlas’s reaction live on the air as Make-A-Wish Hawaii staff and volunteers announced he was going to Hobbiton!
“He started yelling in excitement and jumping up and down,” said Meredith. “It made us feel so happy. I think I may have cried.”
A few short weeks later, Atlas and his family were on their way to New Zealand, where they got to explore the Hobbiton movie set! Atlas got to see the Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn, The Mill, the double-arched bridge, and other structures and gardens built for the films. They also took a guided tour through the Mangaotaki Valley farm featured in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, exploring the film sites and taking in the New Zealand countryside.
“It was such an incredible experience,” said Meredith. “The wish gave our family memories to last a lifetime…to always have something to remind Atlas of how special he is no matter what he’s going through.”
Mahalo to KITV-4 and 94.7 KUMU for helping us reveal Atlas’s wish!