At age 14, Jason’s platelet counts fell dangerously low and it was recommended he be immediately put on a bone marrow transplant list. As there was no match in his family, they waited three months to find an anonymous donor. Shortly after his transplant in March 2016, his doctor and social worker at Children’s Hospital LA referred him to Make-A-Wish. Post-transplant, his condition unfortunately took a turn for the worse. Rex noted that the family had a really tough second half of 2016 and thought Jason was going to need a follow up transplant.
During that time, he thought about his wish, which kept his spirits up. Since Jason is a “New Year’s baby” – he was born on January 1, 2000 - he was especially drawn to the idea of visiting New York City to see the ball drop on his eighteenth birthday. He said, “I’ve always wanted to see the Big Apple. I’ve seen it in movies and I’m the only one in my family who hasn’t been to NYC. Katz’s Deli. Central Park. The Empire State Building. I just like the culture. It’s so much different than LA.”
Over the coming year, Jason’s health stabilized and he was cleared by his medical team for his wish. Make-A-Wish staff, supporters and volunteers surprised the heck out of Jason at our 2017 Wish Gala in November. Everyone wore top hats and blew party favors as he was led on stage by two ladies in sparkling dresses. Our unsuspecting wish kid, found out on stage in front of 800 people that he would be jetting off to NYC to see the New Year’s ball drop for his birthday. His smile was beaming and an amazing spirit of community and joy filled the room. Jason said he was a bit suspicious when he saw all the New Year’s props but he was genuinely shocked when he got pulled up on stage. “I thought everyone knows who I am. I’m getting my wish in front of all of these people. My mind was blown!”
Rex said, “I think he was blushing because the girls who pulled him up on stage were so cute.”
It was especially cold in NYC for this amazing SoCal family, but they absolutely loved their time in the Big Apple. On their first day, they visited Katz’s Deli and ate pastrami on rye sandwiches. Jason found it particularly amusing that he got to sit right next to the spot where “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed. He also loved being on top of the Empire State Building and seeing the entire city below, Brooklyn in the distance and the Statue of Liberty. The highlight of the trip was of course New Year’s in Times Square. Our friends at Dave and Buster’s hosted the family at a VIP party and they got a behind the scenes tour of the famous mirrored ball from Dick Clark Productions. Rex recounted that snow fell as they went to see the ball, which made the experience really magical for them. He said, “We were having dinner for his birthday. And it really clicked, the purpose of the trip. For a week we forgot that he was sick. Everything was taken care of for us. His platelet counts were just ok until December. But just the follow up these past weeks since our trip, there’s a jump in his numbers that they haven’t seen since the earlier part of his transplant. The nurse practitioner came running into the room and was so surprised at the numbers. His platelets were around 50K for a good portion of the year. Now they’re at 90K! It’s an incredible change. They can’t explain it. It has to be the trip. Some things you can’t explain plainly by science. We can’t explain that his counts went up so drastically. But I do know that the wish trip just created all this unabashed joy. We were there just pinching ourselves. I have video of my son dancing in Central Park.”
* Jason's wish made possible by generous support from The Shulman Family.