The wishes of two local teenagers have been granted by Make-A-Wish New Jersey, whose mission is to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.
Christian, 15, and Matthew, 13, both of whom reside in Howell, realized their wishes at a time when they needed it most, according to a press release.
Christian’s wish was to travel to Beaches, Turks and Caicos, and Matthew’s wish, inspired by his love of animals, was to meet “big cats” during a trip to Zoo Miami in Florida.
Both boys have had to endure the hardships that come with battling a critical illness, according to the press release.
For Christian, a trip to a tropical paradise like Beaches, Turks and Caicos would be a welcome respite for him and his family, and a chance to relax and exhale from the stresses of ongoing treatments, according to the press release.
“I had an amazing time, but a few things made it extra special,” Christian said upon his return. “I spent quality time with my family, and for once, my parents didn’t have to run around taking me to doctors. I was free of needles and nurses for a week.
“The staff at Beaches, Turks & Caicos treated my family and myself so wonderfully, whatever we needed they were there. And I got to meet Emmanuel Sanders from the Denver Broncos who was kind enough to take a picture with me. Thank you for a week in paradise. I felt like a regular kid without a care in the world for a week.” Christian said.
Matthew’s wish experience left a similar impactful mark on him and his family, as they reflected on his special trip to Florida. During his VIP visit to Zoo Miami, Matthew was able to meet and work with exotic animals, including lions, elephants, giraffes, otters, jaguars and cheetahs.
“It was so incredible to see Matt smiling so much and just truly happy,” said Matthew’s mom, Deana. “Matt is shy and quiet and keeps to himself, so to see him interact with the animals and enjoy every second was amazing. Matt’s brother and sister are older and they don’t get to spend much fun time with Matt, and it was special to be able to have them share this.”
“The trip gave me memories with my two favorite things,” Matthew said. “I had an experience with big cats which is my second favorite thing. I got to share the trip with my overall favorite thing, my family. My older brother and sister came on the trip, and I’ve wanted something like this for a really long time.”
Christian and Matthew’s wishes were granted thanks to the funds raised by local Jersey Mike’s Subs restaurants as part of this year’s “Month of Giving” campaign, according to the press release.