As Jonathan Banker thumbed through his dated palm-sized photo album, details of his Make-A-Wish Northeast New York wish started to return in force.
To be fair, it’s not like his wish was yesterday. Or in the last decade. Or two.
Jonathan’s wish came in 1995, after being treated at Albany Medical Center for a pineal tumor. Today he is 37, and an LPN for the very same medical facility that treated him a quarter-century ago.
“Me being in the hospital, seeing what the nurses did for me … I wanted to do something like that,” he said recently during a break.
He remembers his wish granters Larry Pohl and retired veteran broadcast journalist Dick Beach.
“It took me a little bit, but then I decided to go to Disney World,” Jonathan recalled of his wish as a 13-year-old. “It was fun. I enjoyed the rides, the sights.”
Jonathan will be an honorary captain at the Albany Empire’s home opener at Times Union Center on April 27 – two days before World Wish Day – which will feature a reunion of Make-A-Wish Northeast New York wish alumni of all ages.
Make-A-Wish Northeast New York wish kids will serve as honorary captains for each of the Empire’s six home games this season.
Back in 1995, as part of his wish enhancement, Jonathan also got to attend an Arena Football League game, and met several members of the then-Albany Firebirds.
“I got to go back to the locker room and meet players,” said the Mechanicville native who now lives in Troy. “It was exciting. I had never been to an Arena Football League game.”
Jonathan is one of the overwhelming majority of wish kids who survive into adulthood and thrive. Album in hand, he looks back at his wish experience fondly.
“It made me feel a lot better,” he said. “It lifted my spirits, my self-esteem.”