When the time came for Matthew to have his wish granted, it came as no surprise to those close to him that Matthew wanted to meet his hockey hero, Mark Messier.
On a cool November evening, 15 year old Matthew Von Dollen sat in his Rockland County living room, watching the New York Rangers pre-game show, grinning ear-to-ear. The Wish Kid – who’s endured 11 surgeries and countless treatments – turned to his aunt and said:
“I have an amazing life, don’t I?”
Granted, the Blueshirts were on a winning streak. But Matthew had a different reason to smile. He was still basking in the glory of one of the most incredible wish experiences of all-time.
Wish Granters Donna and Christie met with him and there was little doubt. The life-long Rangers fan chose the only wish that made sense: to meet NHL legend – and captain of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champions – Mark Messier.
Matthew and his family had no idea the surprises about to be unleashed. One day, as Matthew napped on the couch, the phone rang. He was tired, so he decided to let the answering machine get it. Beep!
“Uh, hi, this is Mark Messier, and I’d like to invite Matthew to a Rangers game…”
His eyes bulged and he leaped from his seat, grabbing the phone just in time. He chatted with Mark like old buddies: hockey, health (“how’s your shoulder, Mark?”), and old times (they talked once before – Mark remembered!). Finally, Mark asked him to be his guest at a Ranger home game.
And on the big day – maybe the biggest day in Matthew’s life – the sun rose and the fun started. He got a behind-the-scenes tour of Radio City Music Hall, and enjoyed a private suite. When they returned, waiting in their hotel room were red and blue balloons – surrounding five bright, authentic New York Rangers #11 jerseys, all with the Von Dollen name on the back.
They put on their jerseys and headed out. As they stood on Seventh Avenue, the Garden seemed different. They – and the thousands of New Yorkers whizzing by on 7th Avenue – saw the words “Matthew – Welcome to Your Wish Day” on the world famous Garden marquee!
Passing below the board that now bore his name, Matthew was escorted inside and waited for his Garden tour guide. It turned out to be a great one – Mark Messier! They explored every nook of the World’s Most Famous Arena – even Mark’s old locker. And when the tour was over, Mark asked Matthew to take a seat – on the Rangers’ bench, as the team took the ice for warm ups!
More escorting – this time to Mark’s personal luxury suite! From then on, it was hard to tell who was the bigger VIP. Mark made Matthew feel welcome, safe and important at every moment – especially as an announcement was made to the 18,000 fans, and the spotlight shone on the pair of stars!
That magical night did come to an end. But the magic continued. Matthew’s wish – including an interview he did with Mark – was featured on the MSG Network show, “Inside the Rangers”. It launched Matthew to celebrity status! To this day, you can’t come to a play date or party without someone wanting to meet the new #11.
Here at The Wish House, together with the Garden of Dreams, we hope we were able to add a little surprise, a little fun – and yes, a little “sweetness” – to an amazing teenager.