A Priceless Smile Fuels Family's Hope

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For one magical week in February, a Cincinnati, Ohio family traded in their hospital masks for keys to the Magic Kingdom thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Gold Medal Products Co.

"I used to think the worst thing in the world I could hear would be 'You have cancer.' It's not. The most devastating is 'Your child has cancer.' Your new normal becomes hospital rooms, tests, masks, and living everyday with the world's greatest fear."

For Brian and his wife Becky, the new normal sprang from necessity out of the leveling realization that their 7-year-old son, Joey, had a brain tumor. For months, the family, including 9-year-old brother Sam, has bravely supported each other through Joey's more than 30 chemotherapy treatments, complications from the tumor, and therapy sessions.

Then, for one magical week in February, the family traded in their hospital masks for keys to the kingdom thanks to Make-A-Wish and Gold Medal Products Co. The royal welcome began with a limo ride to and from the airport, and then they stayed at the Give the Kids the World Village. (You can share their inspirational photos with your readers. Go to gmpopcorn.com/make-a-wish for the high-resolution files.)

"It has a gingerbread house that serves meals, arcade center, mini-golf, a magic castle, and all-you-can-eat ice cream! Joey had ice cream for breakfast almost every day," Becky said.

The family visited all four Disney parks, Universal Studios Florida and Sea World. Sitting in the front row at the Shamu show was a highlight for Joey, who chose this wish because there was a stuffed Shamu in his physical therapy sessions.

"It gave us a chance to be a family again, and I got to see my son smile again. As a parent, when all you got is hope, that smile is priceless," Brian recalled. "Make-A-Wish and the generosity of Gold Medal have also taught my children about charity. Even when times are tough, you have to follow your heart and give, because you never know what it's going to mean to someone else."

Fast Facts:

  • Gold Medal Products Co., employees, and dealers contributed $7,500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® during its annual Distributors' Conference in December.
  • This amount not only fulfilled Joey's wish, it also went a long way toward helping another child's dreams come true.
  • It was a match made in popcorn heaven. Becky's father was one of the owners of a small concessions/restaurant business in Columbus, Ohio. When she was younger, Becky popped Gold Medal popcorn and served it to customers!
  • Gold Medal was founded in 1931 and became a worldwide concession leader by creating industry milestones and revolutionary advances. It's a privately held, family-run company, developing concession equipment and supplies that put the fun into foods. Gold Medal has more than 350 employees, 10 branches, and distributes in approximately 150 countries.
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. You can help share the power of a wish® by contributing financially, donating frequent flyer miles, adopting a wish or remembering the Make-A-Wish Foundation in your planned giving by calling (888) 441-9474. For more information, visit makeawishohio.org.

Go Gold Medal All the Way!

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Bethe Ferguson
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