It's incredible that just months ago, we - the Hope Rises team - were skeptical on how we would be able to pull off a wish for one teenager from Buffalo, NY, who wanted nothing more in this world than to see his young sister experience the magic of Walt Disney World for the first time.
This teenager is Thomas Jay, and his story shook us from the moment we hopped on the phone with his mother, Amy Velez. Amy told us that her son was having what she thought was a routine eye check, after complaining about vision loss. He was also suffering from headaches.
Thomas is a senior in high school, turning 18-years-old when this health scare came up.
The doctors panic during the exam was enough to confirm that unthinkable - cancer...a brain tumor. The tumor was so large that it was pushing on his optical nerves, impacting his vision.
Thomas was, and is, the strongest warrior and beat cancer to the ground. His doctors and his medical teams from Roswell Park, as well as the family's strong faith helped Thomas through the devastation that cancer brings. Thomas never lost hope. But, Amy admits, cancer was the root of so much sadness in their household.
When Hope Rises turned his story into a giveback movement, starting a GoFundMe to support a wish for Thomas, the community responded with urgency - his school rallied, his loved ones wholeheartedly supported, and strangers donated for Thomas to experience the joy that Disney brings.
"It still blows me away that this is actually happening! The generosity from our community here in Buffalo and all across world has truly amazed me. We will forever be grateful for the prayers that lifted us up so high and the kindness shown to us during the scariest months of our lives."
More than $13,000 was raised in just three weeks for Thomas, his three siblings, and his parents to travel to Walt Disney World. They leave May 9th and will celebrate at all of the theme parks, as well as Universal Studios.
"This vacation is going to be a time to enjoy our time together, free from cancer, making millions of happy memories together," adds Amy. "I adore seeing Thomas lean on the knowledge that the trip is coming when the days in recovery have been so very long."
In honor of Thomas' wish and his fight against cancer, please join us in wishing him the BEST WISH TRIP EVER! You can leave a comment here.