Johnny is a charming and thoughtful 18-year old from Peoria. His dream to become an architect was inspired by his love for LEGOs and continues to fuel his ambition for the career. In a recent interview, Johnny’s mother stated that Johnny always puts his family first. This selflessness in his daily life is a contributing factor in Johnny’s wish.
In August of 2013, Johnny was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. This life-threatening cancer affects the soft and connective tissue in the body. As a result, Johnny’s life changed dramatically. Throughout his treatment, Johnny worked to keep up with his school work as to remain positive. When Johnny was asked what he would like to wish for, his answer was a shopping spree where he and his family could spend the day together, stress-free, and “cut loose” a little.
Johnny’s shopping spree took place in Peoria, hitting hot-spots like Target and Toys-R-Us along the way. What was Johnny’s big purchase? LEGOs, of course. His artistic vision to create may have begun Johnny’s love for the building blocks, but his passion for building is what keeps Johnny occupied—often completing whole designs in a day or two. Often kept awake at night by his illness, Johnny works into the early morning on his designs. Johnny’s mother, sister, and brother joined him on the trip. Having his family involved was a major element of Johnny’s wish. The caring brother and son wanted to see his family cut loose as well. Purchasing a tablet for his sister, and a LEGO set for another—Johnny couldn’t resist the chance to dote on his family.
Besides shopping, Johnny and his family enjoyed lunch Osaka Hibachi & Sushi Bar and rode around in a limousine to all of their destinations. Johnny’s Make-A-Wish volunteers really gave him the red carpet treatment as he was greeted at his first destination with cake, balloons, banners, and paparazzi. Unlike most celebrities, Johnny greeted each employee he met with a handshake and words of thanks for their contribution to his special day.
Thanks to the support of his family and his wish-granting volunteers Sue Swibold and Jill Ambroson, Johnny was able to experience first-hand the generous financial support of individual, community and corporate donors. In an interview with the Peoria Journal Star, the always positive Johnny said of the experience: “Today actually shows there’s some good times no matter what happens.” Having his sisters and mom there to share the experience, he said, “means kind of a lot to me right now.”