Amanda Taylor Documents Young Cancer Patient's Dream Come True
CANYON CITY, Colorado - When doctors diagnosed little 4-year-old Jace Cornell with cancer, he missed out on part of his childhood. However, only on News 9, our cameras were invited along for the nearly 600-mile journey - as he got the chance to make up for lost time.
"When this plane comes in, you're going to hold your hands out," said Dave with Southwest Airlines to little Jace out on the tarmac at Will Rogers World Airport.
This could quite possibly be every 4-year-old boy's wish come true - the chance to wave in a real airplane. But for Jace, being able to actually see a plane in person is nothing short of a miracle.
Back in December, Jace's stomach started hurting. So much so, the family found themselves in the ER, with a diagnosis no parent wants to hear, cancer. I asked his mother Erin what the hardest part was.
"Watching him," she said. "Watching him go through and just, seeing him on the bed laying there and feeling helpless as a mom."
Months of painful tests and treatments would follow, including several rounds of chemotherapy to rid his little body of lymphoma, a blood cancer that was extremely aggressive.
"It was not going to win," Erin said. "The cancer was not going to win. But going through it was extremely difficult, going through that."
He'd miss out on having a birthday party instead spending it confined to a hospital room. With his immunity so low, he couldn't be around other children. However, this is why his trip to Colorado is so special because the chemo worked.
Jace is finally well enough for this experience of a lifetime. Make A Wish Oklahoma, which grants the wishes of children with life threatening illnesses, stepped in to incorporate the three things Jace loves most: planes, trains and snow.
"He loves snow," Erin said. "He prays for snow every single night."
So, first on the list, was a trip to Will Rogers World Airport. Southwest Airlines hooked Jace up with a behind the scenes experience like no other, from waving in the airplane on the tarmac to driving the baggage car.
"When we took that little tug ride around the airport, his face lit up and he was so excited," said Justin Cornell, Jace's Dad.
Jace got to experience it with his 6-year-old sister Haylie, which the family said meant a lot especially when you consider she had to deal with mom and dad's attention being elsewhere for so many months. There were surprises every step of the way. This would be Jace's first flight ever.
"We were riding on the plane and he looked at me and said 'daddy, my wishes are coming true,'" Justin said.
The search for snow brought Jace and his family to Colorado. Even though it has been a little warm, his family managed to find some snow and Jace had a blast playing in it. However, there was still one more thing he had to do before his wish could be complete. He'd get to be the honorary conductor through Colorado's Royal Gorge.
"When he's going through something like that, you don't' know if you're going to get moments like this," said Justin. "It changes your perspective. This is about him. What he wants to do."
And it's worth pointing out, all along this wish, we saw Jace's face light up, but we couldn't help but notice everyone else's did too, from the airline workers who got to show him around to the strangers who welcomed him and the train conductors who showed him the inner workings.
"I'm really glad because we don't know what's going to happen," said Justin. "And that's the scary thing about having a child with cancer. Every time you go in for scan, blood work there's doubt that creeps in and you think 'what if today's the day.' You don't want to think like that, but it's always there in the back of your mind. I try to take one day at a time and be thankful for it."
If you want to bring a smile to a child's face like Jace, there's a way you can help. There are many more kids waiting for their wishes to be granted. I’ll be at the Oklahoma City Zoo on November 5 for a very special fundraiser, Walk for Wishes.