Our wish kids love to stay in contact with us for years after their wish! Here are some stories of our past wish kids, and what they are up to now!
Name: Justin N. | Wish: Meet Lonestar | Age (during wish): 15 | Age (now): 22
At the age of 14, Justin’s life changed dramatically when doctors discovered he had a tumor wrapped around his carotid artery. It was also behind his left eye, left cheek, sinus cavity, and inside his cranium. A 16-hour surgery removed much of the tumor, but because of its risky location, they were unable to remove all of it.
“Cancer would’ve been easier to treat than the tumor I have,” said Justin. “With this tumor, there was no option other than surgery or die. I heard while I was being wheeled into the operating room that I had a 20% chance of not making it through surgery. I really didn’t expect to make it.”
Shortly before doctors discovered the tumor, Justin had been busy putting together a carnival to benefit Kids Wish Network, an organization for sick kids that he had learned about on the internet. Soon after his diagnosis, Justin’s parents submitted his name to Kids Wish Network and he asked to meet his favorite band, Lonestar.
Kids Wish Network arranged an all expenses paid trip for Justin and his parents to New York, where Lonestar was giving a concert. He arrived at the concert in a limousine and met up with the band before the show, where he presented each band member with a Kids Wish Network Guardian Angel coin and beaded bracelets. The bracelets all spelled out “Miracles Happen” and each one had 16 beads to represent the 16 hours Justin spent in surgery. Every band member wore them for the concert.
When the concert started, Justin was called up onstage, where Lonestar presented him with a signed bass guitar. After the show, the band met back up with Justin and they all hung out on the tour bus. Lead singer Richie McDonald had learned during their first meeting that music-loving Justin had played the baritone. Since surgery, however, he was now unable to, which was why the band gave him the bass. Richie also wanted to give Justin a jumpstart on learning to play it, so he bought him an amp and a tuner, and even made arrangements at a local music store to give him lessons.
Where is he now?
“I’m a lot better than I was seven years ago. All of my dreams were realized – they all came true, starting with Kids Wish Network.” – Justin Nester, 22, from Pennsylvania
After hanging out with Lonestar back in 2005, the band told him that if they ever came back to his area, they’d do a sound check with him. A year later, they came to his hometown in Pennsylvania and they gave him tickets and let him play his bass during their sound check. His skills impressed the band so much that they asked him to play bass on one of their songs during the concert. That opportunity just solidified his knowledge that he wanted to be a performer for the rest of his life.
Since then, Justin has performed as a musician and singer for a number of charity events, including a Relay for Life run and a memorial for a child who died of cancer. He also attended one of Kids Wish Network’s Holiday of Hope events and helped give out toys to children at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Erie, Pennsylvania.
In addition to performing, Justin is also planning to start college in the fall for pediatric nursing. He remembers the impact that nurses had during his hospitalization and he wants to make a difference in the lives of more children.