Tales of frightening creatures and spooky monsters in the popular book series, Goosebumps, have captivated Isaiah even before he learned how to read.
“Isaiah first saw the Goosebumps movie a few years ago and then we started reading the books together,” said Isaiah’s mom, Olivia. “I would only read one chapter to him each week and Isaiah couldn’t wait until we read the next one, so he could find out what happened.”
While Isaiah loves to uncover the twists and surprises in R.L. Stine’s books – a signature element of the author’s writing – he is no stranger to this kind of suspense.
Diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, Isaiah has been through a series of countless doctor visits and multiple surgeries in his life.
“Part of Isaiah’s heart didn’t fully develop, so he was born without the right side of his heart,” said Olivia. “Isaiah had his first surgery when he was 6 days old and he’s had several surgeries since then, including a major surgery a few years ago where doctors restructured the circulation of his heart.”
Olivia was scheduling one of Isaiah’s routine cardiologist appointments when she learned he would be eligible for a wish.
“The doctors called me back and I couldn’t believe it. I knew about Make-A-Wish before, but I had no idea Isaiah had a condition that qualified,” she said. “It was really exciting when we had our first meeting with our volunteer wish granters because Isaiah couldn’t stop talking about Goosebumps.”
“I really like scary stuff and I’ve always wondered how R.L. Stine comes up with the ideas for his stories and monsters,” said Isaiah. “I wished to meet him, so I could ask him all kinds of questions!”
Once Isaiah’s wish was scheduled, his wish granters, Emiri and Anna, met Isaiah at his favorite restaurant, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, to reveal the big news.
“I was so surprised! I thought we were going to dinner for my mom’s birthday, then they came in with this big sign and told me we were leaving in a week,” Isaiah said.
Isaiah, who had never been on a plane before, was very excited to fly all the way to New York, where R.L. lives. The day after they arrived, Isaiah traveled with his family to meet R.L. at his home and office.
“His books covered every wall and there were big versions of some of my favorite characters, like Slappy the Dummy, plus a giant cockroach and skeleton. It was so cool,” said Isaiah.
Isaiah and R.L. ate pizza together and they enjoyed talking about their families, where they are from and their favorite things.
“He was so friendly and smart,” said Isaiah. “He said his favorite monster is Slappy the Dummy, because he gets to do so much and never gets caught, and that he uses some of the street names or characters from his own life in his books.”
“I asked him if he likes to write on paper or on the computer and he told me he only types with one finger when he writes!” he continued.
R.L. also gave Isaiah some advice about writing as he gets older.
“He told me to go in a room and shut the door so there are no distractions,” Isaiah said.
“While all the other kids were outside, R.L. said he was always going to scary movies or upstairs in his house reading scary comics or writing short stories,” said Olivia. “Isaiah loved hearing that because he does the same thing with his drawings and his poems.”
Before saying their goodbyes, R.L. gave Isaiah some signed copies of his books and Isaiah couldn’t part ways without giving R.L. a box of Crunch bars, his favorite candy.
“R.L. calls Isaiah his ‘Crunch man’ now and that’s how he will reply to him in comments on social media. Isaiah is his biggest fan and thinks it’s so cool,” said Olivia.
“It’s funny because Isaiah seemed so calm when he was with him, but as soon as we left his office it fully hit Isaiah and he was taking deep breaths and putting his hands over his head because he couldn’t believe this actually happened.”
Isaiah will likely need a heart transplant when he is a teenager, but fortunately he is doing well health-wise now and he only needs to see his cardiologist every few months.
“He is writing a lot more and really taking R.L.’s advice seriously,” said Olivia. “Isaiah wants to be an author when he grows up and his sister wants to be a dancer. The chance to go to New York opened their eyes and helped both of them see what’s possible for their future.”
“Isaiah is super determined and, for the person he looks up to so much to tell him he can do anything, it means the world to him.”