Anthony Torres of Santa Barbara will soon go on his wish to visit Cars Land at Disneyland. He is a darling 7-year-old born with a complicated abdominal anomaly that requires multiple drugs. He will need a transplant when he is able to tolerate it.
The family was at first very reluctant to accept a wish from Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties because they didn’t want Anthony to feel like there was something wrong and he was different from other kids. Thanks to the persuasion of two bridesmaids at Anthony’s aunt’s wedding, the family looked into it and actually contact Make-a-Wish to refer Anthony.
Anthony’s Wish Presentation Party was recently held at his favorite restaurant, Mesa Cafe in Santa Barbara, with Anthony’s favorite food — tacos. Romero Elizalda, the manager at Mesa Café, arranged for a donation of tacos and drinks for 20, and a special room set up.
Anthony’s wish granters, Barbara Rose. Sarah Craig and Sue Carberry, worked with Bruce Davis at Hazard’s Cyclesport to arrange a very special surprise for the party. Anthony had a very small hand-me-down bike that he had just learned to ride and couldn’t stop telling his wish granters about how he could ride a bike. So the wish granters shared this with Bruce at Hazard’s Cyclesport. The employees at Hazard’s took up a collection to give him a new bike. Bruce was at the Presentation Party to present the bike to Anthony. Anthony then rode the bike all around Mesa Cafe to the delight of all his cousins and friends.
Anthony’s mom, April Torres, cried when she realized all that the wish entailed. The family has never gone on a vacation. April was particularly amazed and relieved when told about the Disneyland VIP pass that allows Wish Kids to go to the front of the line. With Anthony’s complicated abdominal issues, waiting in a line for an hour was simply not going to work. In addition, Disney has donated two-day park hopper passes for the family and a special character meet-and-greet for Anthony in their “Wish Lounge.”
Anthony’s wish is coming true with the help of funding from the family of Clayton Roberts, who is also a wish child. Clayton wanted to help grant the wish of another little boy, so his mom, Robbyn, contacted the chapter to see if they could help. Clayton lived in Santa Maria at the time of his wish. They are a military family and have since moved out of state.
Clayton was a 4-year-old boy full of zest and enthusiasm when he was granted his wish two years ago. He was so in love with the show The Cake Boss that he watched it every day — over and over again. One day, when Clayton heard the mention of the Make-a-Wish Foundation by Buddy, the Cake Boss, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Clayton wished to meet Buddy and help him make a NASCAR cake.
“I want to make a cake with him because I love Buddy,” Clayton said.
The day finally came when Clayton and his family were picked up bright and early, just like TV stars, in a limousine to begin their journey to New Jersey to meet Buddy. Not only did he get to help Buddy make a NASCAR cake with his name on it, he also got to pie Buddy’s cousin and co-worker Anthony in the face. Everyone had an amazing time, and it was a trip the entire family will never forget.
There are many ways people inspired by Clayton’s desire to give back can help. Each December, the Make-a-Wish Season of Wishes campaign offers families, neighbors, co-workers and friends simple ways to help grant the heartfelt wishes of children with a life-threatening medical condition. Click here for more information about these and other ways to help:
Become a volunteer: Santa Barbara/Carpinteria New Wish Granter Training will take place Feb. 1-2. Wish granters are the heart of the foundation and go out in teams of two to meet with the wish child and family to learn the child’s heartfelt wish. All wish-granting volunteers must complete a background check. Bilingual volunteers are especially encouraged. The deadline for registration is Jan. 11. For more information on becoming a Wish Granter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Write a letter to Santa: Kids and kids-at-heart can help Make-a-Wish grant more life-changing wishes by writing letters to Santa and depositing them in special designated Santa Mail Letterboxes at any Macy’s store across the country. As part of their Believe campaign, Macy’s will donate $1, up to $1 million, to Make-a-Wish for each letter received through Dec. 24.
Donate frequent flier miles or other reward points: It takes 2.5 billion miles, or 50,000 round-trip airlines tickets, to grant wishes that involve travel each year. This holiday season, help fly wish kids and their families to destinations near and far by donating frequent flier miles through the Wishes in Flight® program. Learn more by clicking here.
Make a donation: Click here.
Donate most needed items: Click here.
Start an online fundraiser: Anyone can create a fundraising page in honor of a special person, occasion or event and invite family, friends, colleagues and others to contribute through the page to help grant wishes. Click here to learn how.
— Shanna Wasson Taylor is the CEO of Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties.