Thirteen-year-old James is a fanatic when it comes to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” film series. The beautiful scenery, thrilling special effects and unexpected plot twists are among the reasons why James is so intrigued by the movies. James also feels like he can identify with the courageous characters in the films.
Batting acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, James spends much of his time away from home in the hospital.
“I kind of sympathize with Bilbo in ‘The Hobbit,’” said James. “When he’s away from home, he’s wishing he can go back home and stay home. That was kind of like me in the hospital. I wish I had a ring that I could put on and just sneak out.”
When asked what his one true wish would be, James’ mind did not immediately go to his biggest dream. His brother Matthew was the first to suggest the idea of going to Hobbiton, a place he knew would make James happy. James’ whole family was excited by the possibility of traveling to New Zealand to see the set of James’ favorite films, but they weren’t sure if it could really happen.
James’ mother Susan recalled, “We thought we would be going to Legoland, but Make-A-Wish called and said that getting passports might be a good idea!”
James’ wish granters revealed the details of James’ trip to New Zealand during a send-off party at Cleveland Comic Con, complete with a surprise visit from “The Lord of the Rings” actor Billy Boyd.
Soon after, James and his family jetted off to New Zealand for the trip of a lifetime. They toured some of James’ favorite locations from the movies, like the Hobbiton and the Trollshaws Forest, visited Weta Workshop where most of the props were made, and learned all about the films’ special effects, all while enjoying views of majestic mountains and endless shorelines that they had previously only seen on the big screen. James and his siblings even got to fly through the trees on a zip line.
When Make-A-Wish asked James how his experience was, he answered simply, “It was amazing.”
James’ wish not only gave him and his family a break from the stress of everyday life, but also opened James’ eyes to the hope and possibility all around him. “It makes me realize that the world isn’t such a big place after I’ve been halfway around the world,” said James. “It means you can do anything.”