NEWNAN, Ga. – A local boy suffering from Fraser syndrome has the wish of his life meeting his favorite author, Jonathan London, in California through Kids Wish Network.
Eli is a kid who loves nothing more than listening to a good story; his particular favorites are the books in the Froggy series for children, written by Jonathan London. You see, Eli must listen to these books because he was born without eyes.
At the age of two, Eli was diagnosed with a disease called Fraser syndrome, which affects different systems of the body with various developmental defects. In addition to not having eyes, he has a displaced kidney and a cleft in his vocal cords. Because of this illness, he is unable to feed himself, talk or see, and is confined to a wheelchair. Since his diagnosis, he has endured several surgeries.
When a long-time friend of Eli’s mother was making a donation to children’s charity Kids Wish Network, a representative asked her if she knew of any child who suffered from a life-threatening illness. She told the caller about Eli.
After the initial phone call, it wasn’t long before Wish Coordinator Jennifer found out that Eli’s wish was to meet the author of his favorite books, Mr. Jonathan London.
According Eli’s mother, Pamela, Eli has enjoyed the Froggy book series for about ten years. “We read them to him every night,” she explains. So, for Eli, there was nothing he wanted more than to meet the man who crafted his favorite stories.
With the help of Wish Funding Specialist Doris and some outstanding sponsors, Jennifer arranged for Eli to fly to San Francisco to meet Mr. London. In addition to the meeting, Jennifer organized some wonderful things for Eli and his family to experience including visits to Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum and the Exploratorium. She even made meal reservations at the Hard Rock Café, The Pub, The Blue Mermaid, Hooters and Joe’s Crab Shack for Eli to enjoy!
“It was great. We had the best time,” says Pamela. “Every place we went was great! They ALL catered to Eli.”
Of course, despite all the fun he had everywhere they went in San Francisco, the highlight for Eli was meeting Mr. London.
“Eli’s face just lit up when he heard Mr. London. He couldn’t keep his hands off him! I never imagined it would be like that,” said Pamela. “Eli laughed and jabbered the whole time. We felt like we had known them [Mr. London and his wife] for a long time. Eli just took to Mr. London like he was his best friend. It was great!”
Apparently the feeling was mutual. According to Mr. London, “Meeting Eli was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
He goes on to explain his special meeting with Eli:
“I sat down by Eli, who was in a wheelchair, and said hi, and asked him if he’d like me to read him a Froggy book. He opened his mouth wide, and his mom said that that meant “yes!” When I started to read he immediately lit up! He smiled and seemed to laugh. His arm swung out and he squeezed my hand. He pursed his lips and made little kissing sounds. His mom said that he was sending me kisses! I was so overwhelmed it was hard not to cry. His joy became my joy. I got to take turns pushing him around in his wheelchair. His brother Evan told me he loved to go fast and be spun around. I ran down steep hills and popped wheelies. It was as much fun for me as for him… his sister Erin and I read him one more book, Froggy’s First Kiss. He was so happy! When it was time to say goodbye, I couldn’t help but cry. I would miss him so much! What a great kid!”
Eli’s wish came true in the best way possible and his mother Pamela couldn’t thank everyone enough for what they had done for her son: “Jen and everyone did a fabulous job…the Londons were so nice and down to earth…we couldn’t have asked for anything better. You just can’t imagine how much we appreciate it. Thank you.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Eli’s wish extra special: Jonathan London, Civitan Club of Newman, First Choice Community Bank, Kiwanis Club of White Oak Golden K, Redneck Gourmet, Rutland Aktion Club, Go Lorrie’s Shuttle, The Holiday Inn- Fisherman’s Wharf, The Hard Rock Café- Pier 39, The Pub- Ghirardelli Square, The Exploratorium, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, The Blue Mermaid, Joe’s Crab Shack- Fisherman’s Wharf and Hooters- Fisherman’s Wharf.
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