Everyone has a story, an account that gives them some sense of motivation and purpose as they try to find themselves in a competitive world. As I sit behind my desk in the national office of Make-A-Wish Foundation®, I glance around at the large staff and their welcoming faces. I can feel myself beginning to zone out. My awareness of the light chatter and clicking on keyboards starts to fade; chills climb my spine as I reflect on my journey.
Six years ago, nearly to the day, I was sitting at home on the computer, playing a video game trying to avoid the truth. Cancer could not be sucking the life from him. An abrupt phone call interrupted my game; a shiver of fear shot through me paralyzing my body. My eyes darted to the caller ID. No! Not that number. Please, God, don’t let it be true. I heard my own mother’s loud cry descend from our upstairs. I slid from my chair, onto my knees and pounded the floor with my fists. We lost him, and in disbelief, I began to cry.
June 20, 2006, cancer stole my sixteen-year-old friend, Myles O’Dell.
For months my happiness wilted. In the midst of my heart ache, my mother and I stumbled upon conversation about Make-A-Wish. In that moment, my mind flashed back to the day Myles had his wish granted. I suddenly felt the ice around my heart begin to thaw, warmed by the unforgettable image of hope glimmering in his deep brown eyes as he uttered his wish to go on a shopping spree.
My soul began to absorb a trace of exhilaration. I replayed the happiness and hope restored in the hearts of Myles and his mother as he received his wish. In that very moment, my mind began to overflow with possibility, engulfing my heart. I put aside all reservations and suddenly felt instilled with a greater life purpose. I wanted to contribute to as many families as possible, the same revived hope I witnessed in eyes of Myles and his mother. That very day, the burning desire to work for Make-A-Wish was planted in my core.
My journey has not been easy. Flickers of doubt often poisoned the idea of possibility. However, in these moments, I truly believe God himself eliminated my subconscious uncertainty.
When feeling any hint of resignation, I would focus on Myles and his unlived life. He never got to get his license, to take me to homecoming as he wanted, or even graduate high school. These thoughts were always enough to replenish my motivation and throughout time, I never quit fighting for my dream. I knew I belonged somewhere in Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Today, six years later, I’m sitting at cubicle at the national office of Make-A-Wish doing my part to contribute happiness to families’ lives that have been dismantled by the trials associated with life-threatening medical conditions.
I thank God for this opportunity, my family and friends for supporting me, and Make-A-Wish America for taking a chance on me.
I encourage each of you to consider your passions. You’re never to old to start living for the ones whose lives were cut short.
To find out how you can enrich the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions, visit wish.org