Joseph was 7-years-old when he told wish granters Ann and Emily, “I wish to see the Northern Lights! You have to make this happen!”
Joseph loves science, dinosaurs, and hot chocolate, but his parents Sara and Karl had no idea that he would wish to see the Northern Lights.
“We were floored,” Sara said. “He watches a cartoon series called Dinosaur Train, and he replays his favorite episode where the dinosaurs travel to the North Pole to see the Northern Lights. We didn’t put it together until he told his wish granters that all he wished for was to see the Northern Lights. We immediately knew this had to be his one true wish.”
“I had the opportunity to do so many other things, but I wanted to see the Northern Lights so badly,” Joseph said. “It’s a super awesome light show that literally comes from particles in the air!”
Super awesome spectacles are something Joseph is familiar with. At the age of 6, he underwent a surgery to remove three medulloblastoma tumors in his brain that would leave most of his left side almost completely immobile. He had to relearn to walk in intense physical therapy while receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
“My husband is a cancer survivor and we told Joseph that we knew he could get through this, but there were days that were incredibly difficult for him,” Sara said. “There was a lot of crying, screaming and yelling, because he didn’t understand why he couldn’t move.”
That’s when Make-A-Wish Arizona entered Joseph’s life. To make his one wish come true, Make-A-Wish Arizona sent Joseph to Fairbanks, Alaska after the Fall equinox on a week-long adventure for a chance to see the Aurora Borealis, to visit Santa Claus’s workshop and to try dog sledding for the first time.
“Did the wish help while I was in the hospital? Capital Y – Capital E - Capital S!” Joseph said.
“The wish gave him the kind of hope we couldn’t provide. It was amazing just to see his face, and to know that after his treatment he would get to do something so spectacular,” Sara said.
Scientists cannot predict exactly which nights the Aurora Borealis will appear, but Joseph and his parents had the good fortune to see nature’s incredible light show every night they were there.
“There were so many lights it was almost like the sun came up, but there weren’t as many colors as I thought there would be. I made a lot of observations though, like that the Aurora Borealis was mostly green and the lights seem to be in an oval shape,” Joseph said.
“We got to meet a lot of animals on the trip too, and I got to see Santa’s workshop! It was really sparkly and cool, with a lot of red, white and green colors. His list was there with everything everyone wanted for Christmas. Santa wasn’t there, but he left a note and said that anyone could sit in his chair,” Joseph said.
One of Joseph’s funniest memories was meeting Santa’s fuzzy reindeer.
“I wasn’t allowed to touch the reindeer, but one of them sniffed me! I had a hat on with reindeer horns, and it looked at me like I was her baby or something. It was so awesome!”
“To be honest, I don’t know if I had a favorite part of the trip. It was all pretty great except for one darn thing: there wasn’t much ice, and I think it’s because of global warming, but at least I got to see some. On a scale of 1-5 for doing it again, I’d put it up to 10!”
Joseph has been cancer free since April 2014, and since his wish he has made some plans for the future.
“I’m going to move to Finland someday just to see the Northern Lights! Oh, and for the hot chocolate.”