11-year-old Tyler has always wanted to meet his extended family – in particular, his great-grandfather in Cuba. The island nation is where his grandfather immigrated to America from in the 1980s, and it's where Tyler’s family still lives.
Ever since he was a young boy, Tyler would hear stories of his family in Cuba, his culture and heritage, and where he came from. But for Tyler, meeting the characters in these stories was just a distant dream – one he thought would never become a reality.
Tyler and his family have recently faced the life-altering struggles that come with a life-threatening medical condition. Tyler is battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma and has had to undergo an array of terrifying, and often painful, medical treatments to battle the Stage 2 cancer diagnosis. Each day brings on new challenges, but Tyler and his family face them head on, believing that sticking together and keeping a positive attitude can be a game-changer in the results of the various treatments.
When Tyler was approached by Make-A-Wish and asked that one magical question – if you could have any wish in the world, would it be? – Tyler knew exactly what to wish for. Tyler knew that a trip to Cuba, a trip he never dreamed possible before, would be yet another game-changer for him and his entire family, and to meet his great-grandfather and extended family would give him a renewed sense of strength during a time when he needed it most.
Tyler and his family began their unforgettable journey with an unexpected thrill in the early hours of a warm Friday morning. Tyler, who thought he was simply getting up for a routine doctor appointment, was stunned when he came outside to a limousine, a red carpet, a gathering of friends and family, and news crews to wish him well on his trip. This surprise was a boost of excitement for Tyler that would not subside for the entire course of his 6-day trip.
During his trip, Tyler and his traveled to the small town of Caraballo, near Havana. He was in tears when he met his 92-year-old great grandfather Reynaldo Machado, who is visually impaired. Genesis, Tyler's mom, said she was not surprised to see her son's reaction.
"He has always wanted to meet his family here, and see where he is from," she shared. “It’s very emotional!”
Tyler’s great-grandfather was equally moved by the experience. For him, the thought of ever meeting his great-grandson was nothing more than a distant dream.
“The biggest thanks and a wish of forever happiness to whoever made this happen,” he shared. “The biggest joy I felt was when we hugged – really the warmth you feel between a grandfather and a grandson. There is no way for us to pay back these last couple days.”
Tyler spent a week working on his family’s farm, forming close friendships with aunts, uncles and cousins, and most of all, creating life-long memories with his family that they will cherish forever.