Living with a genetic disorder since he was one year old, David has many food allergies and finding foods he is able to eat has always been a challenge.
“I’m allergic to a lot of foods like chicken, peanuts and more, so when I had pizza for the first time it became my favorite food,” said David.
It was no surprise David wished to travel to the pizza capital of the world so he could learn to make pizza according to the traditional Neapolitan recipe!
“I did a project about Italy when I was in elementary school and ever since then I’ve always wanted to travel there,” said David. “I wondered what the pizza would taste like in Italy and I couldn’t wait to try it!”
David’s journey to finding Make-A-Wish Arizona is all thanks to his mother, Sonia, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
“I work at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and have heard of Make-A-Wish of course, and one of the social workers that I work with said that I should see if David qualifies for a wish,” she said. “I was hesitant at first, but I decided to apply, and it was approved by David’s pediatrician!”
To reveal the news of his wish come true, David found out he was headed to Italy on his 16th birthday!
“When I walked into the party room at Main Event, I saw suitcases in the corner and I wasn’t sure if someone had left them there or something,” said David. “But it turned out to be a gift from Make-A-Wish Arizona. Then in that moment I knew my wish was going to happen!”
After some diligent planning, David was off to Italy. The trip to get there lasted about 15 hours and once David and his family arrived, they were feeling a bit jet-lagged.
“We arrived at our Airbnb and we were all exhausted. We actually took a nap in our regular clothes, which almost never happens,” said Sonia.
Although the napping didn’t last for long as David’s entire family was too excited to see the country. David received a tour of the neighborhood they were staying in from the Airbnb hosts, who also recommended restaurants the family should visit.
The next day, they took the Roman Metro, Italy’s subway, to the middle of the city to see the famous Spanish Steps.
“It was so amazing, like nothing you could ever see in America,” said David, who also had the chance to visit the legendary Colosseum that day. “I’ve always been interested in gladiators and their battles, so it was pretty surreal.”
David wasn’t the only one who was awe-struck.
“I couldn't believe we were there. Tears started rolling down my face,” said Sonia. “Make-A-Wish makes the impossible, possible. They gave David something we could never give him on our own. I just hugged my boys and I think we were all just in complete awe.”
After exploring Rome, David and his family headed to their final destination and pizza capital of the world – Naples, Italy – for his wish to make some authentic pizza.
Once David arrived at the pizza parlor, the staff was excited to show him and his family how the recipe was done the Italian way.
“They were happy to teach me and apparently I picked it up pretty well!” said David, who made three different kinds of pizza; cheese, pepperoni and, last but not least, a huge star-shaped pizza with cheese covering every inch!
But David’s favorite part was getting to taste his masterpiece.
“Oh god, the pizza! Just the cheese pizza was amazing, like nothing and I mean nothing, you can have anywhere else. It tasted glorious! I loved it,” said David
“I look back and I’m jealous of myself because I probably can’t ever have it again!” David continued, although he hopes one day he can return to the pizza parlor and enjoy that exquisite pizza again.
David is now a senior in high school, active in his high school’s drama club and is beginning his next big adventure: deciding which university he wants to attend in the fall. David’s sights are set on either Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University.
But he will always look back fondly on his wish that was granted two years ago.
"The fact that there are people who actually wanted to help me fulfill my wish, it’s just amazing. I am so thankful, and I can’t get over that.” said David.