By the sweet smile on his face, you would never guess that three-year-old Alex has been through so much. In such a small number of years, he has faced large battles – including two open-heart surgeries before he was six months old.
“Alex was born with Williams syndrome,” his dad said. “It’s a rare genetic condition that causes developmental delays and cardiovascular problems.”
Because of his condition, Alex is unable to express himself verbally. Although, his parents know exactly what makes him happiest.
“He loves being outside,” Alex’s dad said. “He especially loves swinging.”
So when Alex was referred to Make-A-Wish® by his doctor at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Alex’s parents knew precisely what to pick for his wish – a play set right in their backyard.
When the play set was installed, Alex’s reaction was “pure joy,” his dad said. “The look on his face…it just melts your heart.”
Since receiving his play set, Alex has been on it almost every day, and each time, his eyes light up with excitement.
For Alex’s dad, seeing his child’s wish come true was a touching moment.
“It was amazing,” he said. “It was one of the greatest experiences of his life… It was a perfect match for us.”
Not only has Alex’s wish given him and his family happiness today, but it has granted them a hopeful look toward the future.
“I hope that it will continue to bring him shared memories with his brothers and fun times when friends come over to play,” Alex’s dad said. “His physical therapist mentioned that it could be a great strength builder, too.”
Alex isn’t alone, either – other wish children have experienced something similar. According to a recent study published in Quality of Life Research, “Experiencing positive emotions is believed to promote more adaptive environmental responses and resilience and vastly improve an individual’s daily functioning and overall well-being” (Shoshani 2015).
But perhaps, the best thing about Alex’s wish wasn’t the simply the structure built in their backyard, rather the community and care that Make-A-Wish gave to the family.
“The experience is better than the wish itself,” Alex’s dad said. “From the volunteers and all the caring that goes along with the wish… people really open up their hearts.”
Alex’s doctor referred him to Make-A-Wish, but it isn’t just medical professionals who can refer a child. If you know a child like Alex who may be eligible for a wish, learn more about the referral process here.