When Make-A-Wish® first met Zack in June 2005, he was just five years old and battling rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that causes tumors in muscles. Enduring more medical procedures than most people experience in their entire lifetime, having a wish granted was a welcome distraction.This young dinosaur enthusiast knew exactly what he wanted for his wish -- his very own T-rex dinosaur.
“Our daily routine was nothing but ‘medical,’ from nurses coming to the house, daily shots, weekly chemo... even eating was an ordeal," said Zack's mom. "When I explained Make-A-Wish to him, that’s all he thought about. It took away from that daily routine and gave him something to look forward to."
Zack will never forget the day his wish came true. After spending the day as a paleontologist with visits to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Carnegie Museum, the dinosaur connoisseur followed "dinosaur tracks" back to his home. “There were a lot of people in my backyard and looking past all of them, I saw Meaty, a seven-foot T-rex of my very own.”
For Zack’s mom Natalie, it was day that changed her son’s life.
“Seeing Zack smile for a day and have fun like a normal kid was overwhelming. That one day made up for months and months of having no childhood.”
That was 2005. Zack’s wish marked a turning point in his battle against cancer. Zack, now 15-years-old and cancer free, is helping other kids experience the same magic that he did through speaking, volunteering and even fundraising, and every year, he hosts a birthday part for Meaty at his home. In his first Make A Move for Make-A-Wish bike, walk and run event, Zack raised more than $23,000 to fulfill other children's wishes. In four years, Zack has raised more than $150,000 for Make-A-Wish. Zack, full of life and planning for the future, is truly a testament to the magic and power of a wish.
"Make-A-Wish made a big difference in my recovery because it gave me a day of hope," said Zack. "It was a day I didn’t have to think about hospitals and being sick."
Click here to view photos of Zack's event.
To read a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Zack's special wish experience, its impact and what he is doing now to give back to Make-A-Wish, please click here.