Thu, May 7th 2009, 11:19
A teenager diagnosed with a severe heart disorder had the chance to meet his goal-scoring hero, LA Galaxy Forward Landon Donovan, with a little help from Kids Wish Network.
Fourteen-year-old Taylor’s biggest passion in life is soccer. He loves to play the game and watches every televised match that he can. Nothing can stop him from enjoying soccer, not even his condition.
At birth, Taylor was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia. This is a condition in which the pulmonary valve is closed, causing a disruption of the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs. At fourteen days old, Taylor’s doctors placed a shunt in his heart to oxygenate his blood temporarily. After the surgery, however, he started experiencing heart attacks and, at eight-months-old, Taylor endured a heart transplant. Every year Taylor must suffer through a heart biopsy as well as a heart catheter in order to assure adequate blood flow to his lungs. In addition, he has had four sets of tubes placed in his ears to assist in hearing.
Taylor’s wish all started with a phone call from a Kids Wish Network professional fundraiser. This charity, whose goal is to make the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses come true, was somewhere that his parents could turn to give Taylor something to help him cope with all that he was dealing with. It was Wish Coordinator, Vanessa, who learned of Taylor’s wish to meet his soccer hero, Landon Donovan; with the outstanding assistance of LA Galaxy Community Development Manager, Gloria King, and some fantastic sponsors, Vanessa organized a trip to Los Angeles, California for Taylor and his family, where he would finally meet his idol.
On his first full day in L.A., Taylor was whisked away in a limousine to The Home Depot Center where he would meet Landon Donovan and have the chance to witness a training session in person. Even though he and his family were treated with tons of awesome personalized LA Galaxy gear, meeting Landon Donovan was, for Taylor, the biggest thrill. “He was very nice. He not only talked to me, he also talked to my little brother.” During this meeting, Landon chatted with Taylor and his family and autographed a jersey for Taylor. He even got to meet General Manager and Head Coach, Bruce Arena, Forward Edson Buddle and watch the team prep for their big game. According to Taylor, “It was all very fun!”
The rest of Taylor’s wish trip was filled with excursions to various attractions in California including Universal Studios, Pacific Park and the Hollywood Wax Museum; he and his family had top-notch accommodations at the famous Oceana Santa Monica and dinners at some of the best restaurants in L.A. Taylor was even invited to the premiere of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” where he watched the movie surrounded by stars! “Vanessa did an outstanding job” setting up his trip, he said.
After two days of fun in the California sun, Taylor’s wish was far from over, as he found himself in attendance at The Home Depot Center to watch the LA Galaxy take on the New York Red Bulls. As a surprise, courtesy of the LA Galaxy, Taylor was invited to a fantastic suite at The Home Depot Center where he and his family got to watch the team’s celebrity Brit Night pre-game soccer match and meet with stars like Assistant Coach Cobi Jones, Miss LA Galaxy and even the team’s mascot, Cozmo! “It was all amazing,” he said.
That evening, from seats right on the field, Taylor and his family witnessed the Galaxy’s first win of the season, thanks to Landon Donovan’s amazing penalty kick. (Some might even say that it was Taylor’s presence that prompted the win.) In the euphoria following the victory, Landon headed over to where Taylor and his family were seated, took off his game-winning jersey and handed it to his dedicated young fan. According to Taylor, “It was amazing!”
Taylor’s excitement hasn’t died down since his return to Ohio, either. “I’m glad we’re home,” he says, “but I wish we could’ve stayed longer.” The thrill of meeting his hero in such an amazing place will stay with him for life. Taylor will always remember when he met Landon Donovan and got to witness the first win of the season, all thanks to the generosity of the people with the LA Galaxy and a little “guardian angel magic” at Kids Wish Network.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Taylor’s wish come true: Landon Donovan, the LA Galaxy, Pacific Park, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Universal Studios, Oceana Santa Monica, Twentieth Century Fox, Midway Car Rental, Rusty’s Surf House, BOA Steakhouse, Tony Roma’s and ALS Limousine.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org