Hassen has played the guitar for 10 years now, so he knows what it means to stick with something and persevere in the face of a challenge.
Diagnosed at 3 years old with an immune deficiency, Hassen’s body has been fighting off bacterial infections for his entire life.
“I have to receive immunotherapy treatments each month that give me an artificial immune system,” said Hassen, who has been hospitalized multiple times for his condition. “Sometimes things are hard, but everything I’ve been through shaped me to be the person I am today.”
Now 17 years old, Hassen showcases his skills on the guitar as a part of a band he created last year with his best friends.
“Last summer, we were on a road trip across the pacific coast when we drove through a town called Yreka in California,” he said. “We liked the name so we decided to use it as the name for our band.”
“We don’t really have a specific style for our music, we like to mix different kinds of music and it’s kind of become our own style,” he continued.
With much of his free time and thoughts revolving around music, Hassen knew he wanted a wish experience that would in some way involve his love of music but also continue to be meaningful to him many years in the future.
“Playing the guitar can be pretty expensive,” said Hassen with a laugh. “I wished to have equipment for my band, so we can continue to improve and make music together.”
Not only was Hassen’s wish unique, it was extra special to the staff at Make-A-Wish Arizona because it would be the 6,000th wish granted for a kid in the state of Arizona. As preparation for Hassen’s wish was started, his mom made sure to keep the fact that it was a significant wish a secret, so it could be a surprise.
“We planned to reveal Hassen’s wish on stage at the Walk For Wishes in October, but it rained on the date that was originally planned, so I had to wait even longer to tell him,” said his mom, Kristy. “It was so hard to keep it from him because we were so excited!”
When the day of Hassen’s wish reveal arrived, the skies had cleared.
“My mom gave me a hint that we were going to Tempe Marketplace, but I didn’t know why,” said Hassen. “We were standing in the crowd for the event when they announced my name and asked me to come on stage.”
“I was so nervous and I didn’t know what was happening but then I met Tom from Fender, who told me my wish was coming true! In addition to all the equipment I requested, which I was going to get on a private tour of the Fender headquarters, they also created a custom Fender guitar for me.”
Tom handed Hassen his new, custom-made guitar onstage, tailored with the special features Hassen had on his wish list.
“It’s a Jazzmaster and it’s beautiful and amazing!” said Hassen. “These guitars transmit sound using magnets and they are very well-known, but this one was even better because it was made just for me.”
A few weeks later, Hassen enjoyed a special tour around the Fender facility and picked up the other items he had requested as part of his wish.
“I got a second guitar, pedals, amps for our band, and a lot of other things I wanted,” said Hassen. “Plus, I the chance to meet and talk with a lot of new people in the music industry and be part of a community that I never knew existed. I would be happy with whatever I received, but to get everything I asked for was amazing.”
Since his wish, Hassen spends his time practicing on his new guitars and writing songs with his band.
“We meet every week and I hope to keep playing and possibly have a career in music one day,” he said. But for now, Hassen is focusing on finishing his senior year of high school with plans to graduate and go into the medical field.
“I want to study pre-medicine or molecular biology because my condition makes me want to help others,” he said. “When I turn 18, I want to be a junior wish granter for Make-A-Wish Arizona and I hope whatever I do can help someone else feel better.”
Hassen, who used to see an immune specialist every three months, is also healthier and now only has to go to this doctor every six months.
“I’m feeling a lot better and my wish has improved my quality of life,” he said. “I don’t think my wish was about the material things I received, it’s about what I’ve gotten out of it with new friends and knowing that people really cared to make my wish special for me.”
“Hassen is so much happier since his wish, and he plays his guitar even more now. He has always loved music, and this means everything to us,” said Kristy.