I always wonder about celebrities and the differences between their public persona and reality. I had the opportunity to find out for myself over Easter weekend when my family traveled to New York City.
To explain, let me share a bit of our story. In 2002, our youngest son, Nathan Griffin, was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. This is a very aggressive and very rare soft tissue cancer. Nathan had just turned a year old when we was diagnosed. He spent the second year of his life in and out of hospitals, fighting for his life through surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Over the last 14 ½ years, he has undergone additional surgeries and dealt with the side effects of so much therapy at such a young age. Last year, I was called by the mother of a boy who we met all those years ago and she told us that she had nominated Nathan for a wish through Make-A-Wish. Make-A-Wish is an organization that grants wishes to children who are battling or are battling a life threatening illness. Nathan could not get a wish when he was going through chemotherapy because of his age, but he did qualify last year as a survivor.
Nathan’s wish was to meet the cast of Saturday Night Live. He had to be 16 before SNL would allow him to attend a show, so we waited and were so excited when our wish granter, Dennis Baird, called us and said our trip had been scheduled for April, 2017.
Over Easter weekend, Nathan, along with David, myself, and two of our other children, Rene and Tony, were flown to New York City to see a live taping of SNL. We felt so special when the limo pulled up to take us to the studio. After the show, we got a backstage tour and then almost the entire cast came out to give Nathan hugs, talk about theater (he is a big-time theater kid!), and sign the cue card from the cold open that says “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”. We were all amazed and a bit in shock. Next, one of the producers told us there was one more person who wanted to meet Nathan. Nathan’s biggest dream came true when Jimmy Fallon (who hosted the show) came out of his dressing room, along with Harry Styles (the musical guest). All of the celebrities who visited with Nathan were so down-to-earth, friendly, and truly interested in him. Jimmy spent a long time with Nathan, teaching him his signature moves and learning Nathan’s from him.
It was a magical evening as part of a beautiful weekend that was all planned and paid for by generous folks who donate their time and money to Make-A-Wish. The organization does wonderful things for children who have had to deal with so much more in their young lives than they ever should have. We are forever changed by the experience.
If you are looking for a way to make a difference in the life of a child, consider donating your time and/or money to Make-a-Wish!