Wishes Granted by: LeBron James, Mark Sanchez, DeSean Jackson, Kyle Busch, Rory McIlroy, Alexander Ovechkin
Six marquee athletes from five professional sports will be featured in sports-themed wishes granted through Make-A-Wish® on ESPN’s seventh annual SportsCenter “My Wish” series beginning Sunday, July 15. Each wish will be the subject of a SportsCenter feature segment (the first on Sunday’s 10 a.m. ET SportsCenter, the others debuting on each weekday’s 3 p.m. SportsCenter, culminating on Friday, July 20).
The summer series, which raises its total of granted wishes to 41 this month, shows Wishes coming true in the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Each segment will give viewers an in-depth and often emotional story, starting with how the wish is revealed to how the child interacts with his/her favorite athlete.
Emmy Award-winning reporter Chris Connelly, who has hosted all six “My Wish” series, will reprise his role in 2012. This summer he will be joined by NBA MVP LeBron James, New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, NASCAR’s Kyle Busch, 2011 U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy, and Washington Capitals’ two-time Hart Trophy (MVP) winner Alexander Ovechkin.
“It’s great to be back for our 7th season of My Wish,” says Connelly. “From the beginning, it’s always been a privilege for me just to step into the homes of these families and hear their powerful stories. It’s impossible not to be moved by these parents’ love and dedication and belief in the face of the unthinkable — the life-threatening illness of a child. Once again, we have terrific young people to introduce this year, along with the athletes who fulfill their really heartwarming wishes and put some unforgettable smiles on their faces.”
“The My Wish series allows viewers to see firsthand the power and impact that a wish has on each wish kid we serve,” said David A. Williams, Make-A-Wish America president and chief executive officer. “Join us in watching the connection that grows between these kids and their favorite athletes. The support and dedication that ESPN puts into sharing each story matches our vision of granting the wish of every eligible child.”
LeBron James with 17 year-old Thiago D’Elia from Peachtree City, Ga., an avid basketball fan and cancer survivor. He met his favorite team — the Miami Heat — and his favorite player, LeBron.
Mark Sanchez with 13-year old Jesus Reyes from Beulaville, N.C., who beat leukemia. He got to meet his hero, attend a Jets game, and sign a “contract” with the team as honorary member for the day.
DeSean Jackson with nine-year old Donovan Troy from Atlanta, who has been dealing with sickle cell anemia but has not lost his love of sports. Like Jackson, he is left-handed and wears #10.
Kyle Busch with eight-year old Kyle Felver from Stanwood, Wash., a quarter-midget car racer before becoming wheelchair-bound with a progressive neurological disorder. He got to meet Busch at the Sprint All-Star race.
Rory McIlroy with 13 year-old Tucker Dupont from Waconia, Minn., who has had three open heart surgeries. He can no longer compete in contact sports, but plays golf and got to spend a day with his favorite golfer and hero.
Alexander Ovechkin with 16 year-old Sam Jacobson from Boise, Idaho, who plays on his high school hockey team despite recovering from lymphoma. He got to skate with his hero, Ovechkin, and ride a Zamboni at a Capitals game.
Make-A-Wish® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. According to a 2011 U.S. study of wish impact, most health professionals surveyed believe a wish-come-true can have positive impacts on the health of children. Kids say wishes give them renewed strength to fight their illnesses, and their parents say these experiences help strengthen the entire family. Based in Phoenix, Make-A-Wish is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories. With the help of generous donors and more than 25,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the country every 38 minutes. It has granted more than 212,000 wishes since its inception in 1980, nearly 14,000 in 2011 alone. Visit Make-A-Wish at wish.org and discover how you can share the power of a wish®.
Team ESPN encompasses ESPN’s multi-faceted corporate outreach initiatives, including volunteerism, corporate giving and cause marketing, while utilizing its diverse media assets. Through Team ESPN, ESPN employees and fans work together to make a difference in our world and the communities in which we live. ESPN has funded and volunteered for numerous projects in the Bristol community. Team ESPN’s slogan is Fans Helping Fans®. For more information, please visit: www.teamespn.com