Ever since he can remember, five-year-old Fred has loved rocket ships, astronauts, and all things space. “When I first started getting into space stuff I just liked NASA, but it’s all really cool,” he says.
Some kids look up to rock stars or athletes, but Fred has always preferred space explorers like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, two brave astronauts who never let obstacles get in their way. “They are his heroes because he knows it takes courage and integrity and strength of character for astronauts to do what they do,” says Fred’s mother, Joanne.
Fred has a lot of things in common with the people he looks up to most. “He knows astronauts, like himself, have a lot of medical exams and procedures,” says his mom.
Fred battles against diamond blackfan anemia, a rare and life-threatening bone marrow disorder that forces him to endure fatigue, frequent doctor’s visits, and blood transfusions. Fred’s illness acts as a daily obstacle for him and his family, but just like his heroes, Fred does not let his condition stop him from being the curious and fun-loving kid that he is.
When wish-granting volunteers asked Fred what his one true wish would be, his response was out of this world. Fred wished to go to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and see the final space shuttle launch.
In July of 2011, Fred and his family jetted off to Orlando, Florida for the trip of a lifetime. “We had a fantastic time. Fred met all sorts of astronauts and pilots and NASA employees. It’s hard to describe how perfect this turned out,” Fred’s parents, Joanne and Mark, said in a note to Make-A-Wish. Fred also got the chance to tour the Kennedy Center Visitor Complex with his sister Matilda and even received his very own spacesuit.
While Fred was having a great time experiencing his wish come true, the weather was threatening the actual shuttle launch from happening. The day before the big event, the tower was struck by lightening, causing a delay. The next morning was rainy and cloudy, and NASA predicted a 70% chance that the launch would not occur. As the potential launch time approached, NASA changed their prediction to 60%.
Despite the odds, when the launch time finally arrived, the mission was a go. Fred and his family counted down from T-60 seconds and watched as the space shuttle shot into the sky, truly turning Fred’s wish into a reality.
Fred’s wish acted as a source of inspiration and hope for his entire family. Reflecting on the shuttle launch and what it proved, Fred’s mother said, “There are only veritable degrees of what is probable. Everything is possible.”
Fred’s mom later shared her and her family’s gratitude for Make-A-Wish: