Twenty-seven years ago, a chance meeting at Disney World got James Cavanaugh involved with A Wish Come True, an organization dedicated to granting wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
While standing in line at Disney, Cavanaugh and his wife found themselves talking to the father of a young boy who was very ill. “The father looked familiar to me,” Cavanaugh said. “Come to find out, he lived two streets over from me (back in Massachusetts).”
The father told the Cavanaughs about his son and how he’d longed for a trip to Disney. “The doctors told (the boy’s father) that there was nothing more they could do,” Cavanaugh recalled. “He’s terminal. His son asked him if, before he goes to God, if he could go meet Mickey Mouse. He wanted to go to Disney.”
But the family had spent all of their money and refinanced their home to pay for their son’s treatments.
“He had to tell his son, ‘No.’ Because, at the time, he was broke, he had no money,” Cavanaugh said. “But he explained to me that one of his neighbors knew about the A Wish Come True organization and they granted his wish.”
It was then that Cavanaugh realized he was seeing a child’s wish come true — right before his eyes. This boy had made it to Disney.
“I was talking to the little boy and that kid was just the happiest kid on the face of the Earth, no matter how sick he was,” Cavanaugh said. “My friends and myself, we’ve done a lot of fundraising for political events, and we were experienced in that, so my bags weren’t even unpacked. When I landed, I called A Wish Come True and asked them if they needed help.”
Today, Cavanaugh is on the board of directors for A Wish Come True, launching its 26th annual dinner dance fundraiser so that more local children could experience what he saw that day: a wish coming true.