OCALA – Nathan is a happy and caring 8-year-old who loves watching the Cartoon Network, creating art and watching his favorite actor Robin Williams on the big screen. While Nathan is optimistic about his future, he will have many extra obstacles to overcome in life – he has Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy. He keeps his bubbly and energetic disposition despite the fact that his leg muscles cannot live up to the strength of his personality. His mother Sarah
said, “Nathan may have MD, but MD doesn’t have him.”
When Wish Coordinator Madeline Robinson of Kids Wish Network was contacted about Nathan and his wish to meet his idol Robin Williams, just like the famed actor who played the genie in Alladin, she quickly granted Nathan’s wish making his special dream come true.
Nathan’s wish began when he and his family were picked up by a limo and brought to the Airport for his California dream. After arriving in California the family was whisked away in another limousine to the Hilton Fisherman’s Wharf to rest up for all of the activities to come.
Madeline covered all of the bases, arranging for the family to take in a baseball game featuring the Giants vs. the Phillies. Nathan hit his own home run when he received an autographed baseball and cards from the Giants. Next the family was off to Pizza Chicago for an Italian feast, followed by decadent hot fudge sundaes at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop.
There was no “escaping” the fun the following couple of days with a tour of Alcatraz Island, dinner at the Alcatraz Café & Grill and the magic of moviemaking with a visit to the Exploratorium’s “Behind the Screen” Exhibit. Nathan’s trip was full of first time experiences for him, just like the box of chocolates that Forrest Gump spoke of, so it was only fitting that the family dined at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. at the Fisherman’s Wharf. Nathan surprised his family when he was spotted skipping around the restaurant with its manager and his sister, an activity usually out of character for Nathan because of the pain in his legs.
The next day the family surprised Nathan when they boarded a private yacht for a memorable catered cruise with a special Hook – Robin Williams was already on board. “He made us all feel comfortable greeting everyone with hugs,” said Sarah. “He was down to earth and really nice.” Nathan’s father Greg said, “Seeing the smile on Nathan’s face was the greatest thing. He was shy and a little overwhelmed, but Robin really warmed him up and asked Nathan a lot of questions about himself. Robin was non-stop laughs, but he was also an extremely modest and humble person who was really concerned about Nathan’s well being.”
While Nathan was a little star-struck and of few words, Williams kept him laughing through all of his witty antics. Little did Williams know that when he portrayed his heartwarming role in Patch Adams that one day in real life his comedic talents would be the very medicine that Nathan needed most.
Everyone went out of their way to ensure that every whim of Nathan was satisfied. The yacht’s chef prepared all of Nathan’s favorite dishes including fried chicken, enchiladas, pizza and make-your-own sundaes. Greg said, “Robin was so impressed with Nathan’s ability to engulf his ice cream sundae. Nathan had ice cream all over his face after he licked his bowl clean and Robin jokingly said, ‘I am Nathan, hear me roar! I’m king of the world!’” The actor showered Nathan and his siblings with autographed movie memorabilia from his films and after learning more about his interests, told Nathan that he would be shipping him a special present after he gets back home. Nathan also presented his idol with presents, giving him a special book that he wrote and illustrated as well as a portrait that he drew of the actor. Williams was so touched by Nathan that he extended an invitation for him and his family to visit him at his San Francisco home.
After their on-board adventure , Nathan’s family was happily surprised when Rod, their chauffeur from Mr. Limo insisted on taking them for a three-hour tour of some of San Francisco’s most beautiful sights. All of the touring worked up a “wild” appetite in Nathan’s family, so that evening they dined at the Rainforest Café. The restaurant was the perfect place for Nathan to reflect on his California “adventure” before returning home to Florida the following day.
While Nathan and his family will still have to face the uncertain challenges of battling his illness, they will always cherish the magic they shared together when Nathan was treated like the shining star of his dreams.
Kids Wish Network would like to graciously thank all of its generous sponsors including Robin Williams, The Hilton Fisherman’s Wharf hotel, The San Francisco Giants, Pacific Marine Yachts, Alcatraz Island, Pier 39, the Exploratorium, Executive Limousine Service, Mr. Limo, Alcatraz Café and Grill, Pizza Chicago, Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co., Rainforest Café, Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop and American Airlines.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to grant wishes to children who have life-threatening illnesses. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of their wish granting services, please call (813)891-9374 or toll free at (888)918-9004. You can also visit its web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.