She knew how much he was hurting – she was right there by his hospital bed for 10 months away from the rest of the family. Alby was fighting not only leukemia, but an infection in his arm. The infection was so serious that doctors prepared Alby for the possibility that he would lose his arm … because even that was better than allowing the infection to spread into the rest of his body.
If you watch this video, though, you’ll see Alby walk. You’ll see him swordfight against pirates. You’ll hear all about the day he tracked down a buried treasure chest in the Caribbean. You’ll also hear Barbara confront the unthinkable emotions of seeing her son at his lowest possible point. I’m amazed at how forthright she is about what she went through with Alby.
Despite all those dark moments, all of his pain and all the fear, Alby got better.
His medical team accomplished what can only seem like a miracle to Alby and his family. He wouldn’t have gotten healthy again without their knowledge and experience.
Barbara believes there was something else, too: the possibility of his wish coming true. Alby met with Make-A-Wish volunteers and wished to be a pirate treasure hunter. From the moment he learned they would grant his wish, there was a change in his life.
“He lived for that wish. He would ask almost every day since November when we returned home ‘when are we going on our trip?’ It gave him something to look forward to,” Barbara says in the interview.
Alby is a changed kid, too. I hope I’m not giving away too much of the video for you, but Barbara says his experience makes him appreciate and love life more. He’s learned a lot along the way – and he wraps the video up by giving some advice to any kid who feels like just giving up.
If you know anyone who has ever questioned why you volunteer for Make-A-Wish, I think you have an answer in Alby’s story.
Your time, your energy and your unrelenting positivity makes every wish possible.
I can only imagine what the first visit with Alby was like for the Make-A-Wish volunteers. It can’t be easy to see a disheartened boy in that much physical and emotional pain. We are lucky enough that we can count on people in every community to meet this challenge and to keep coming back.
Barbara got to watch her son walk and swordfight in the Caribbean because of the volunteers. The reward for volunteers? Watching Alby’s journey. They stood by him as he rediscovered a reason to live – and they were his path to a new appreciation for just waking up every day to more possibilities.
If you’ve watched the video, what did you think?
Make-A-Wish volunteers are a diverse group, from recent wish kids like Katie to those discover volunteering after retiring, as Hugh did. They each bring distinct skills and time commitments, and so can you!
(All photos by Don Hebert)