Watching Anthony zip-line through the jungle during his wish to go to Costa Rica, you would never realize he experienced a huge health scare just two years ago.
“My son had a massive heart attack in October of 2016,” said Anthony’s mom, Rebecca. “You don’t expect children, especially older children, to have a heart attack and now Anthony is on eight different medications to decrease his chance of a having an aneurism.”
Anthony was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease, which causes inflammation in the blood vessels that ultimately led to his heart problems. During the months of doctor visits and treatments for his condition, Rebecca heard about Make-A-Wish Arizona.
“My friend who works in the medical field thought a wish would be perfect for Anthony,” said Rebecca. “I never would want my child to be in this situation where he could receive a wish, but this was a chance for Anthony to be able to do something for himself for once in his life.”
The idea of a wish gave Anthony new hope.
“I wished to go somewhere in the Caribbean, but I picked Costa Rica specially because it is really beautiful and it was the one destination that had everything I was excited to see and do, like the best rainforests for zip-lining and beaches for snorkeling,” said Anthony.
“Anthony missed out on a lot of his childhood because of his health. His condition is something he is going to have to live with forever, but his wish brought his spirits up and I saw changes in him mentally,” said Rebecca. “He was finally happy about doing things again.”
As Anthony’s wish grew closer, he researched the activities he wanted to do to and started to visualize his trip.
“I was so excited, I was counting down the days,” said Anthony, who flew to Costa Rica with his mom, dad and his friend, Chad.
“It was great to be able to bring a friend because we could do a lot of the activities together,” he continued. “When we arrived, the people we met were so nice and everything was beautiful. We saw tons of monkeys and they would just hang out on the beach with us, which was really cool.”
In addition to spending time at the beach, Anthony and his family had plenty of action-packed adventures during their stay.
“We went snorkeling at a private beach and I saw lots of fish like puffer fish,” said Anthony. “I loved the ATV ride, too. We rode them through different towns and it was awesome to see how different places looked, like beaches with volcanic sand.”
“The zip line was fun and exhilarating,” said Rebecca. “Anthony was super excited and it was great to see him laugh and smile. He was able to enjoy himself and be a kid, not a sick kid, but just a kid again.”
Anthony, who is now a sophomore in high school, says the way he felt during his wish is the part he will remember most.
“I was so happy and I always had a smile on my face,” he said. “It was the best time.”
“In a way, Anthony’s wish makes up for some of the time that he has lost due to hospital visits and treatments,” said Rebecca. “It was a chance for him to not worry about his condition and just have fun.”