Official press release from The Kids Wish Network – thanks to Alicia True
NEW YORK, N.Y. –Through the outstanding generosity of Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and national children’s charity Kids Wish Network, the only wish of a teen suffering from cystic fibrosis, a brain abscess and blindness was recently granted.
After enduring the loss of his vision and suffering through multiple brain surgeries, both stemming from a life-threatening lung condition called cystic fibrosis, 16-year-old Gideon of Allen remains optimistic and brightens everyone else’s lives with his cheery disposition. In fact, his optimism may even be comparable to that of his hero, that “incurable optimist,” Michael J. Fox.
Just two years ago, Gideon was suffering from a severe sinus infection brought about by his cystic fibrosis when things took a turn for the worse; the infection spread to his brain and caused an abscess to form. He had already undergone the first of many brain surgeries for the abscess when Gideon caught Michael J. Fox’s “The Incurable Optimist” special on television in his hospital room. It was an inspiring experience for the teen and he was especially touched to see a star who understands completely about struggling with an illness.
Unfortunately, after the second surgery on Gideon’s brain, the nerves to his eyes were destroyed and Gideon awoke to a frightening new world: one without the majority of his sense of sight. Michael J. Fox’s “incurable” optimism took on a fresh meaning for the teen and he was determined to work around his handicap. Though he suffers through his treatments for cystic fibrosis, endures surgeries and takes his medications, Gideon tackles all challenges with a sunny smile.
When a teacher referred Gideon to national children’s charity Kids Wish Network to possibly have a wish granted, Gideon took a chance and asked if he could meet his hero and fellow optimist, Michael J. Fox.
“I honestly didn’t know if it could be done, but when Madeline [Gideon’s Wish Coordinator] called to tell us that Michael J. Fox wanted to meet Gideon, it just all went so fast,” said Gideon’s mother, Kim. “Michael’s show was the last show he ever got to see with both eyes. It just stuck with him. He [Gideon] was also inspired by his book and what Michael J. Fox had done.”
When it actually came time for Gideon’s wish to be granted, Gideon and his family found themselves flown to New York and whisked away in a limousine to the amazing Roosevelt Hotel. “The room was beautiful,” said Kim. The hotel even arranged a surprise for the family in their room: a tray of milk and cookies and a toy bear for Gideon!
That evening, their first planned activity, a Spirit dinner cruise along the Hudson River in “The Big Apple,” was also a pleasant surprise for the family.
“We absolutely loved the cruise,” said Kim. “Gideon still talks about it…he says it’s the best food he’s ever eaten and he loves food! We absolutely loved it…it was fabulous!”
Because of all the fun they had on the cruise, Gideon and his family were able to sleep despite the excitement and growing anticipation of waking up to their second day in New York, which also happened to be the day when Gideon would meet Michael J. Fox.
The next afternoon, Gideon, his family and his Wish Coordinator were driven to the Central Park Zoo in a limousine to attend a special private hands-on tour arranged for the teen and Michael J. Fox to enjoy together.
According to Kim, Gideon was overwhelmed when he was first introduced to his hero but Michael quickly made the teen feel comfortable with easy conversation and lots of laughter.
“He [Michael J. Fox] was so nice,” said Kim. “They just talked and talked as the zoo people kept bringing in animals for them to meet and pet. The one I think Michael and Gideon enjoyed most was the hissing cockroach. They both really enjoyed petting it and listening to it hiss.”
Kim said that the two really hit it off and talked for hours just like old friends; the topics of conversation ranged from movies to books, especially Michael J. Fox’s inspiring piece, “Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” to brain surgeries – the harrowing experiences that Gideon and Michael have both shared. Before parting, Michael J. Fox even presented Gideon with signed copies of his books on CDs so the teen could listen to them as well as DVDs and other gifts. Gideon then presented a thank you letter to Michael that was printed in Braille. Michael was touched and said that he would frame the letter without glass so that it could still be read.
“He [Michael J. Fox] was just so sincere and so sweet. He even told us to call him Mike. He was just Gideon’s new friend, Mike,” said Kim. “It was a lot more than we ever expected. My daughter Olivia put it best when she said it was an ‘over the rainbow wish.’”
As if his wish could not get any better, Gideon’s Wish Coordinator arranged for the family to attend the world premiere screening of “Shrek Forever After” in 3D at the Tribeca Film Festival after Gideon’s meeting with Michael J. Fox.
“It was awesome,” said Kim of her family’s experience at the film festival. “We’re all big Shrek fans so it was the perfect movie for us! The best part was that Gideon could see most of the screen with the 3D glasses and the way the screen was set up.”
The whole wish trip went like a dream and on the family’s final day in New York, they all enjoyed a special hands-on tour of the Museum of Natural History.
“Gideon was extremely happy. He loves to learn something new every day and this definitely helped him learn some new things,” said Kim.
Though Gideon’s wish is now over and he’s home in Michigan, Gideon doesn’t seem to know it, remaining on the proverbial “cloud nine.” Both Gideon and his family are still especially touched that Michael J. Fox, a very famous man who has devoted his life through his foundation to research Parkinson’s disease, took the time out of his extremely busy schedule to sit down and spend some quality time with Gideon.
“He [Gideon] is just so happy,” says Kim. “Gideon is really looking forward to telling his friends at school all about it…The whole wish was more than we expected. Everybody was so kind to us there that we definitely felt like celebrities. I’m still in shock over it all. Thank you so much.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for making Gideon’s wish such a special experience: Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Allen United Methodist Church, Jonesville American Legion Post 195, Jonesville Lions Club, Quincy Lions Club, North Adams Lions Club Hillsdale Lions Club, Rebekah Lodge 134, Jonesville Rotary, Hillsdale County Chamber of Commerce, Roosevelt Hotel, Central Park Zoo, Spirit Dinner Cruise, Museum of Natural History, Tribeca Film Festival, U.S. Limousine and Planet Hollywood.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to ensuring the development of better treatments, and ultimately a cure, for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda. MJFF has funded almost $179 million in research to date. To learn more, please visit their website at www.michaeljfox.org.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children in crisis. Every child deserves a chance at happiness; a wish is just a way of bringing them that joy. If you would like to sponsor a child’s wish or if you know a child who is suffering from a life-threatening illness and may be in need of Kids Wish Network’s wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004 . For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org
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