Cole draws strength from his favorite superheroes when he needs to feel invincible. That’s because, at just 3-years-old, he is fighting one dastardly villain.
“Two years ago, Cole was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a baseball,” said his mom, Michelle. “It was the day before Christmas and it came as a complete shock to our family.”
Cole needed surgery and endured months of chemotherapy, but there was one thing that helped him get through each of his treatments.
“All he ever wants to do is watch videos of superheroes,” said Michelle. “I’m not sure if it makes him feel like he is stronger or helps to distract him from what’s going on, but he loves these characters, especially Spiderman, more than anything.”
When Cole was referred by his social worker for a wish, he knew he wanted to visit his favorite superheroes so he could finally meet them in person.
“This was our first time as a family going on a trip like this and we found out we could go to both Universal Studios and Walt Disney World!” said Michelle, who helped build the excitement of the wish experience by bringing Cole to the Tucson Walk For Wishes this past October.
“Cole had fun dancing with Wilma [the University of Arizona mascot], we were able to talk with other families about where we were headed, and Cole even wore his superhero cape!” she continued.
With only weeks left until their trip, Cole’s “Spidey senses” were tingling.
“Cole’s wish could have been five years away and he still would have been just as excited,” said Michelle. “His wish granter volunteers gave us a countdown chain and every day we would rip off another ring in anticipation.”
The first day his family arrived in Florida, Cole explored Give Kids The World and loved riding the carousel and eating tons of ice cream. But the best part was still to come.
“When Cole met Spiderman, his eyes were full of wonder. Seeing him so happy and carefree is something I will never forget,” Michelle said. “He even went back to hang out with him again!”
Throughout the rest of their trip, Cole couldn’t wait to meet other characters, visit “Mickey’s house” and go on plenty of rides.
“Cole went on every ride he was tall enough for, even some roller coasters,” said Michelle. “We had to take breaks throughout the day so he could rest, but he is pretty fearless and we did everything we hoped we could during our stay.”
Michelle’s favorite people to meet were not characters at all, but other wish families who could relate to the similar challenges they face every single day.
“Connecting with other wish families and being around other parents who are going through the same thing was so helpful,” she said. “For one of the first times in my life, I felt understood and that I didn’t have to hide or be ashamed of my feelings.”
Now back home, Cole’s tumor is stable but his condition will continue to affect his life.
“He has little use of the right side of his body and he has seizures every day, but Cole’s wish gave him a chance to escape reality and it recharged our family,” said Michelle.
“Having these memories will continue to bring us joy through anything that lies ahead.”