Way back in December 2006, this mild-mannered 10-year old from Yonkers wished to be a superhero in an action movie. Now, he was getting his chance in the spotlight. It was the World Premiere of “The Silver Ranger” – starring Donovan Simpson.
Passersby on the streets of Peekskill were treated to quite the spectacle on May 21, 2007. Out in front of the Paramount Center for the Arts, they watched as the area’s newest action hero, Donovan Simpson, stepped from his limousine to greet his screaming fans.
Friends, family, Wish Granters, and all his school friends dressed to the nines lined the narrow sidewalk. They chanted his name as he made his red carpet entrance. Wish Alumni, serving as his security detail, warded off the “paparazzi” and whisked him to his front-row VIP seat. His fans swarmed trying to get a glimpse of the big star.
As the curtain rose and the film rolled, you could hear a collective sigh at the back of the theater. Tonight was the unveiling of a masterpiece that could have only been created through the creativity and hard work of a community of people determined to, as we say, “Share the Power of a Wish”.
These types of wishes – “I Wish To Be” - are rare indeed. The last completed by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Hudson Valley was 3 years prior. But it represents a wonderful opportunity – not just to make a dream come true, but bring it to life.
The journey of the wish might just be the most rewarding part. A wish of this type begins with a simple plan – to put a child and a costume in front of a camera. But it snowballs into a real-life, Hollywood-style production. Sometimes it seems you can’t stop the outpouring of so much energy and support.
From the Best of Times Video camera crew, to the actors and costume creators at Dave’s Cast of Characters, to photographer Margaret Fox snapping “official” shots of the big star, everything fell into place. The film shoot would take place April 3 – as the bad guys would try to take over the Wish House! New York State Troopers, Tarrytown Police and their chief, Scott Brown, pledged their involvement - someone had to haul the bad guys to jail!
And the snowball of support kept coming. Darlene Rodriguez of WNBC’s Today in New York recorded a “Special News Bulletin” – warning Donovan of the impending danger. River Communications offered their services as Donovan’s “people” – handling his media affairs and requests for publicity. And Wish Granters Cori Adelman and Christine Palmer (on her first wish) took care of the family and enhanced his experience.
The day of his film shoot was itself a miracle – the one temperate afternoon wedged between two April showers. Everything went smooth – even the fire alarms set off by “bad guy” fog added to the film’s mystique. The Silver Ranger won the battle, the Wish House was saved – and it was off to the “wrap” party. Done in trademark Make-A-Wish style, the Westchester Marriott welcomed him with every member of their staff, cheering his name and serving his favorite foods.
Then, our grand superhero did what any other young Wish Kid would do after a battle royale. He fell into a deep, peaceful sleep on the ride home.
You would have never maintained such a dreamlike state at the Paramount that night in May. Rock music ushered in the start of the film. Volunteers from Pepsi handed out snacks and sodas. Fans cheered, clapped, and stomped their feet. They gasped as they watched the WNBC Special Bulletin. And when the Silver Ranger made his screen debut, the crowd roared with delight.
On that magical evening, children of all ages – glued to their seats, eyes fixed upon the screen – they became part of that wish, too. Their belief and wonder made the Silver Ranger real. They helped turn a Wish Kid into an action hero.
Donovan has become something of a legend here at the Wish House. New Wish Kids come every now and then to see “The Silver Ranger” on the big-screen TV. You can tell from their wide eyes and gaping mouths that they believe what our staff, sponsors and volunteers already know:
Wishes DO come true. And we make it happen every day.