Like many little boys, James is a hands-on kind of guy who enjoys sports, especially baseball and hockey. Diagnosed with leukemia in 2005, James had a long road to recovery that included hospitalizations and the loss of his silky blond mop of hair. His parents and older brother were great support, and, in the midst of his treatment, a new little brother helped James focus on healing.
The family had always bonded through sports and as James started feeling better playing baseball and hockey gave him more confidence and strength as he completed his treatments. When referred to Make-A-Wish by the staff at Advocate Children's Hospital in Park Ridge, James had a pretty good idea of what his wish would be. During his recovery, the Chicago Blackhawks had won their first Stanley Cup in nearly 50 years and the whole region was enthralled. James decided his wish would be to meet with and skate with the team.
In April 2013, his wish came true as he took to the ice with the team at Johnny's IceHouse, their practice facility. He zipped around the ice like a pro, taking pointers from team captain Jonathan Toews and trying a few shots on goal. The pros were very welcoming to this little guy who shared their passion and cheered as he scored on one of the NHL's top goalies. Team members also took the time to meet with James' brothers, sign sticks and other souvenirs.
James and his family remember that day fondly every time they watch the Blackhawks play and speak about his illness and wish experience.
Anna, James' mom said many months after the wish, "Reflecting as a mom at that moment, I’m reminded that although cancer may have robbed James of a portion of his childhood, and the long term effects of the chemotherapy will be a battle he will continue to face, cancer doesn’t win."