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A.J.'s wish to be a musician

AJ, mom, and a friend

“ You bring hope to kids like me. ”


- A.J.

Heads turned as a new song came over the sound system in Detroit’s Hard Rock Café. The two artists were seated at the best table in the house as they listened to their song make its public debut. One of them was 18-year-old A.J. Recording a CD was his wish, and it had finally come true.

A.J. and his best friend Justin had always dreamed of becoming musicians. At 15, A.J. picked up a guitar and began to take lessons. However, his funds ran out after only a few sessions, but he continued teaching himself by watching instructional videos on YouTube. He and Justin challenged each other through in their trial-and-error jam sessions, emulating their rock heroes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kid Rock and Metallica.

Mastering the guitar was far from A.J.’s only challenge. At 2 years old, he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and severe asthma. When A.J. learned he was eligible for a wish, he asked Make-A-Wish® Michigan to help him create an album of his original music.

A.J. and Justin had written several instrumental songs, and wish granters introduced them to music producer Mark Nilan. He encouraged them to write lyrics for some of their songs and called in friends of his to professionally sing, drum and play piano on the tracks. A.J., Justin and Mark spent months laying down songs and editing the tracks.

Later that day as the three had lunch at Hard Rock Café, a familiar tune came started to play. To A.J. and Justin’s surprise, their album was making its public debut.

Justin recognized the song first and pointed it out to an astounded A.J. Then the Hard Rock Café staff announced them and asked them to autograph a copy of the CD. Other diners visited their table to congratulate them and ask where they could buy their music.

“I just want to say thank you to the Make-A-Wish,” A.J. said. “You guys to amazing work. You bring hope to kids like me.”

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