At only the age of two, Pittsburgh, PA, native, Maxwell, was diagnosed with a severe respiratory disorder. From the time he was a tumbling tot, his life brought numerous challenges: hospital visits, arduous treatment and a multitude of medications. It was not until he was 13 years old that Maxwell realized he was eligible to receive his one true wish – to find hope in a Hawaiian adventure.
Rewind back to 1999: It was like any other family dinner in their home when Maxwell’s mother posed an interesting question to him, “If you could wish for anything in the world, what would it be?” It seemed like an imaginary, farfetched topic for Maxwell – like describing what one would do after hitting the lottery. Little did he know at the time, his mother had already began the most important process of a wish – the referral. Maxwell was qualified, surprised and wide-eyed!
From the moment he learned about Make-A-Wish®, Maxwell knew that he wanted to do something exotic. With some careful consideration and plenty of planning, Maxwell decided to travel over the great big blue for a tropical view in Hawaii. There, he and his family visited Oahu and Maui for a picture perfect paradise. Maxwell enjoyed dipping down under for a snorkeling adventure and parasailing above the waving whitecaps. He even got to spend a special Fourth of July watching fabulous fireworks on the beach. But to crown it all, Maxwell was especially eager to dive into some excitement with professional surfing lessons. Just like his daily life, through high tide and low tide, he kept swimming along.
In addition to riding the waves, Maxwell and his family had the opportunity to indulge in an authentic luau experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Held in a venue with a beautiful background of waterfalls and lush gardens, this luau gave Maxwell and his family a genuine look into the royal celebration. They enjoyed, as Maxwell put it, “the whole works!” – a decadent buffet, traditional Hawaiian entertainment and plenty of dancing. Maxwell said graciously, “This wish experience made life easier knowing that there were people supporting me. I then knew that I wasn’t the first person to experience these challenges, or the last.”
Maxwell’s granted hope in Hawaii inspired him keep the magic of a wish alive. “Today, I am proud to say that I overcame significant hurdles and attended college and law school,” Maxwell said. “I am now an attorney and take pride in donating and giving back to Make-A-Wish.” Within this past year, he has hosted an ongoing, online fundraiser, raising more than $1,000 for the local Make-A-Wish chapter. Throughout the year of 2016, Maxwell hopes to continue his efforts with a generous goal of $5,000.
Now in good health and relieved of many of his medications, Maxwell lives contently in his Shadyside home. Aside from his career as an attorney, Maxwell is an avid reader, artist, musician, baseball fan and automobile enthusiast – especially Ferraris! Conveying the true message of Make-A-Wish, Maxwell said, “I hope that my story can be a beacon of light for children and families and demonstrate that a wish can truly be a turning point.”