Three-year-old Liam’s imagination would run wild as he played with his toy army men, often picturing how cool it would be to actually become one for the day. Through the power of his wish, that day became a reality for him as he recently found himself crossing through the gates of West Point United States Military Academy and being welcomed by their Corps of Cadets.
Upon his arrival, Liam raced over to greet retired Colonel Jesse Germain with a big high-five and proudly exclaimed “Today’s my day!” Right from that first display of unbridled excitement, it was clear to see that Liam’s wish would be nothing short of transformational. Just like a real army man, Liam suited up, head to toe, in genuine army fatigues so he could truly feel that he was just like one of the cadets. As he greeted them, he could be heard asking the group, “do you have bunkbeds like me?” His day and his adventure as an army man was underway
Liam’s first task was learning Military Movement and Practice Soldier Skills. He watched in wonder as his fellow cadets practiced techniques on the trampolines, and he patiently waited his turn to join in on the training. The cadets were instantly drawn to his eagerness and enthusiasm—and despite his small stature, he fit right in among the class.
Next he observed a Boxing Match class, followed by an appropriately Liam-sized obstacle course. Colonel Germain readied his stop watch and walked Liam through the course. Liam ran, jumped and tumbled through every obstacle, beating the “world record” and graduated on to the advanced course.
Joined by two other cadets, Liam and his troops crawled and jumped through giant tires, over walls and up ladders, and yet again, beat the “world record” of the course. Liam’s next stop was Survival Swim class, where he and his family watched in awe as cadets jumped into a pool from two stories above, in full gear and boots. Liam was sure to wave at every cadet to help ease their nerves before they each took their big plunge.
But the best was about to come for Liam, the moment he had anticipated the entire day. The courageous three-year-old was about to officially command the elite Alpha Squad. Liam glowed with excitement as he rode the elevator up to the floor where the heart of his wish would unfold. The doors opened, revealing seven soldiers specifically chosen to have the honor of joining Liam’s Squad! Liam, at the ready, immediately joined his new team and asked to be briefed on their mission. Following the briefing, he bravely led his squad through the battle simulator, bringing them to victory. As Colonel Germain could be heard shouting over the
troops, “Liam, who is the commander of all of West Point?”, a confident reply could be heard coming from Liam, “ME!” Liam’s parents proudly watched as their young son, who had already endured so much in
his fight against cancer, took the helm and guided these dedicated soldiers through every obstacle that came their way.
Liam’s day spent as an army man at West Point United States Military Academy not only transformed his life, but the lives of his parents, the leadership at West Point, and the cadets that worked with him. It was a day that will remain etched in the memories of countless people—a constant reminder not only of the hope and joy a wish can provide, but the strength that can be found in a wish experience by all those who are involved in it, in even the most difficult of times.