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I Know the Power of a Wish

Pro Bowler Eric Berry and Thomas Vielkind.

“ The best way I can describe my wish is it was the finale to my illness. ”

- Thomas Vielkind

By Thomas Vielkind

Every once in a while, one goes back and looks at how far they’ve come. Three years ago, I was five months cancer-free after a 26-month bout with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APML), which I was diagnosed with at 14. I had been planning my Make-A-Wish® Northeast New York wish for a few months at this point: I desperately wanted to go to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

However, that wish was full, and I was placed on a waitlist; if someone was unable to go, I would take their place. But 10 days before the game, I received a phone call from my wish granter, Jaime Ralston. A few days later, I was on a plane bound for Hawaii.

The best way I can describe my wish is it was the finale to my illness. My trip served as a lens to look at all the hardships I had endured over nearly three years, and a means to celebrate how far I had come, how different a person I had become. My wish made me feel like a normal kid who was on vacation with his family, something we had not dreamed about for three or so years.

At the time leading up to my wish, I had simply been looking to get through high school as best as I could, all the while making monthly visits to hospitals and having any number of tests continually done. In the years following my wish, while I still have checkups, it feels as if that portion of my life is over.

My trip to Hawaii provides a bittersweet memory to my illness. While it was one of the most fun weeks of my life, it serves as a reminder of the toll a serious illness takes on oneself and family. I can never think about one without the other.

My wish remains a celebration of everything I overcame over a large swath of my high school years. But for others, their fight rages on. That inspires me going forward to be a wish ambassador and give back to Make-A-Wish®. I know these kids’ battle … and I know the lasting power of a wish.

Thomas Vielkind, 20, is a junior at Syracuse University. His wish was to attend the 2016 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii. He and his family live in Guilderland, New York.

Photo: Thomas Vielkind, right, is pictured with fellow cancer survivor Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs at the 2016 Pro Bowl.

I know these kids’ battle … and I know the lasting power of a wish. ”

— Thomas Vielkind

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