Issaic danced in his wheelchair to Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” alongside his fellow party guests as his mother, Colleen, looked on in amazement. Just a year and a half ago on his 16th birthday, Issaic suffered a massive stroke caused by an arteriovenous malformation. In one day, he went from being a member of his high school’s varsity football team to fighting for his life in a medically induced coma at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
Issaic started working on his rehabilitation with the goal of walking across the stage at graduation in the spring of 2017. He surprised all of his friends and football teammates by walking in front of the stands at his school’s homecoming game this fall.
“Football not only physically but mentally kept him strong,” Colleen explained. “At the football banquet, they awarded him with a three-year varsity letter plaque even though he couldn’t play this past year. He would wake, eat and sleep football. Everything was about football. He was being really strong watching and just cheering the team. He helped everyone stay focused and be a team player.”
As Issaic was preparing to finally return home after a five-month hospital stay, his social worker referred him to Make-A-Wish® Michigan. When Issaic’s wish-granting volunteers Jamie and Kelly met with him at his wish interview, he shared that he wanted a fun party with a social media theme for his closest friends and teammates. His wish coordinator went to work to plan every detail of his incredible wish. With the support of 13 area businesses, Issaic’s party quickly came to fruition.
Issaic invited 100 friends and close family members to celebrate his wish. The party featured a chocolate fountain, dessert table, iPhone-shaped cake, social media centerpieces, photo booth, DJ, custom Snapchat filter and much more.
“The photo booth was his favorite part,” Colleen said. “He could’ve spent his whole time there. He is all about Snapchat and Instagram as that’s how he connects with his friends now.”
Party guests and people from across the country were encouraged to show their support by using the hashtag #Issaics99WishParty. Tweets were streamed on a screen during the party, coming from Miss Michigan, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and fellow Make-A-Wish chapters.
“I was surprised at how great [his wish] was put together,” Colleen said. “It meant a lot of things – a day to be all about him that was done to his fullest imagination to make him feel super special. He didn’t have to worry about anything and everything was taken care of.”
For Issaic, the party was a chance to be a regular teenager, who dances and laughs with friends at a photo booth. He was given the opportunity to bring all of his friends together and celebrate at the party of the year.
“My favorite highlight was just seeing him having fun with his friends,” Colleen said. “He hasn’t had the chance to be with all of his friends and hang out like that. Make-A-Wish puts a day aside for them to feel special and it’s all about them. You don’t have to worry about doctors and rehab. You get a special day, which is what they deserve.”