By Jenn and Michael, wish parents
Jack was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening, neurological/autoimmune disease - a condition that targets the body’s nerves when he was three years old. Our “discovery day” was difficult, due to the limited information available about the condition. On one hand you are relieved to have a “name” to put against what is happening to your child but devastating to learn what the actual diagnosis means and what this small child may endure.
Jack was at a very low and scary point physically with his disease, when he found Somebody Feed Phil/I’ll Have What Phil’s Having. He was out of school for quite some time, having trouble with vision, extremely fatigued, limb failure issues, and was not able to eat much of anything, due to disease flare complications. Once Jack found Phil Rosenthal’s show, he was able to latch on to Phil’s positive attitude and zest for life. Phil and his show inspired him to thrive, and try to eat again, and try to eat different things than he previously had not.
The show lifted his spirits during a very dark time, and he literally felt such a connection with Phil, just from watching him on TV, that he thought in his head, that they were already friends. Phil provides a positive and funny view on everything, which really resonates with Jack. As parents, we feel grateful and truly feel Phil saved our Jack, during a very scary time in his disease. He was the single turning point to shift Jack’s focus from his medical condition and what was happening to his body. When Jack is having a tough day, Phil is on his iPad streaming or from the living room TV.
It came as no surprise to us when Jack wished to meet Phil.
For Jack to meet Phil, it was joyful, exciting, rewarding and soulful. Jack fancies himself quite the actor, so somehow, he managed to keep it together. The whole experience was so surreal. It was pretty overwhelming in a great way!
Phil was the most caring, sensitive, thoughtful, down to earth, in the moment person – ever. Authentically amazing. This wish has given Jack so many positive things to remember and call upon. And, pictures to cherish for a lifetime.
Seeing Jack’s smile – a huge, genuine, fulfilled and innocent smile, was everything to us as parents. We don’t often see that amount of joy with Jack, so the fact that Phil was so accommodating, amazingly thoughtful and attentive to Jack, was everything and more than we could’ve wished. Phil even checked in on us the next day and called ahead to a friend from his show’s restaurant and the owner Bill was waiting for Jack and treated us to lunch!
The boys remember the smallest things from the trip that were so wonderful or meaningful to them. It has had a tremendous effect and impact on all of us. As a parent to see your child joyful and being a happy/carefree child, for even two hours, is beyond anything we can describe. It literally makes our souls smile.
The wish was an opportunity for Jack to not only fulfill a much-deserved wish, but the entire family to have a real vacation, free of medical appointments or needs and a chance to be family without cares for a week. That never happens for us with two boys with medical issues, so it was honestly hard to come back to reality. It meant the world to have a wish granted for our child, who endures so much physical, emotional and exhaustive medical intervention.