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Zachary, Age 14 shares his personal experience from having his wish granted by Make-A-Wish North Texas.
"I am sure you know of diabetes, a very common insulin disorder, but have you heard about its opposite? My parents did not until I was one year old, when my blood sugar dropped to 23 (should be 100), I had a seizure, and was ambulanced to Cook Children's Hospital, where I stayed for the next two weeks, and was eventually diagnosed with Congenital Hyperinsulinism. Congenital Hyperinsulinism is caused by genetic mutations that result in inappropriate and excess insulin secretion from the beta cells of the pancreas. It is so rare, only 0.002%, 156,000 out of 7.8 billion people, of the world have it and I am one of them . I always carry it as a hindrance, like an obstacle I can never get over. But one experience that I will never forget flipped my opinion of it and I will never be the same.
I have lived with Congenital Hyperinsulinism for over 13 years and have never been happy about it. It has always been frustrating to me for many reasons. One is that others get to eat steak, and chicken, but I have to eat salad basically. The reason is because my rare condition causes protein to make my blood sugar drop drastically and quickly. I have to take medication twice a day, every day, as if my life depended on it. Well, basically because it does. I also have to test my blood for glucose levels several times a day. But even with all that, my outlook on it changed in 2017, when I was chosen by the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of it. That day made me realize that everything has an upside to it. I have always been a fan of the NFL and football in general. I wanted to go to the Pro Bowl and meet some of the best players and also some of my favorite players. So on January 28, 2018, my family and I flew up to Orlando, Florida, and I had the best week of my life.
While staying in Florida, I stayed in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. I felt like a millionaire because it was all wooded with deer antlers and just felt like a huge, luxurious log cabin. I visited Universal Studios Florida, Disney World, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and Camping World Stadium, where I watched the Pro Bowl game in the rain. At Universal Studios, I received some exclusive treatment (“Thanks Dad.”). They announced my name and made me feel important and special. The next day we were given the day to spend at Disney World. Make-A-Wish bestowed me and my parents with elite fast passes called “Genie” passes. The magical thing about these passes was that they granted you access to the front of the line on EVERY RIDE! I was on a new ride every 15 minutes, give or take. We went on all of our favorite rides, and visited all four world-class theme parks inside Disney World, in one day. My legs were so tired that day from all of the walking we did. At the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, I witnessed the NFL football players training for the Pro Bowl and had the privilege of meeting some of my favorite players, including: Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Von Miller, Jason Witten, and many others. And at the end of the week, I went to Camping World Stadium to watch the Pro Bowl. It rained most of the time, but honestly, that made it even more memorable.
My family and I were wearing rain ponchos and cheering with rain pouring off of our heads and shoulders. My team that I was cheering for won the game, and Von Miller, my all time favorit player of the game, won Defensive MVP. That was just icing on the cake. However, the Pro Bowl is not the only thing I’ve experienced with Make-A-Wish. In April of the same year, Make-A-Wish and Texas Tech invited me to a scrimmage, a practice game, at The Frisco Star, where the Dallas Cowboys practice. They gave me a VIP tour of the facility, and my own helmet, set of pads, and jersey with my name on it. About halfway through the game, the head coach of Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury, asked me to come onto the field and run a play as the running back with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The quarterback passed the ball off to me, and I ran through defenders, and into the end zone for a touchdown! I was filled with adrenaline and excitement, and loved every minute of it. Fox 4 news interviewed me and my mom, and aired it on television that weekend.
I realize now that nothing is as bad as it seems, because if you wait a while, some dreams come true. I would have never experienced any of those unique and amazing opportunities without my medical condition. When I feel like my condition is a hindrance, or I’m frustrated with my circumstances, I can remember these past experiences fondly, and they make me happy inside. For me, I will always understand this one simple phrase that I learned from my involvement with Make-A-Wish. Prizes come from weakness turned to strength."