Fifteen-year-old Michael loved the Dallas Cowboys. “He knew every player’s name by heart, including the coaches and assistant coaches,” says his brother Dean. “His favorite player was defensive tackle, Randy White.”
A Heartfelt Wish
Michael was born with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening lung condition that made living a normal life difficult for him. However, according to Dean, “Michael never complained. It was very important to Michael that he not be defined by his illness. Everyone who met him was in awe of his positive attitude.” Although it was not easy, Michael did not let his condition weaken his spirit. With the help of Make-A-Wish®, Michael found joy and inspiration through having his heartfelt wish granted to meet the Dallas Cowboys.
For Michael, the opportunity to receive a wish had a tremendous impact. “Michael was guarded. He didn’t want people to know he was suffering. CF made him feel limited, trapped, and frustrated. He couldn’t do the sports he loved. His wish made him no longer feel powerless. He believed he could still have the power to make things happen. It proved that he was not helpless.”
In September of 1984, Michael’s wish came true. Michael, his mother, and his brother, Dean traveled from their Toledo home to Dallas, Texas. Michael’s other brother joined them in Texas and, as a family, they met Michael’s football idols.
The moment Michael had been waiting for finally became a reality when head coach Tom Landry greeted him on the practice field, along with Randy White and the rest of the team. Michael’s brother Dean recalls:
“After an introduction and a polite greeting, Michael began to deliver a lengthy, blow by blow strategy on how to utilize key players and plays to use to ensure a win at the big game. The longer he talked, the more silent it became. Soon the entire rehearsal field was silent as Mike continued. You could hear some soft sighs of concern from the coach’s handlers.”
Dean remembers, “Landry motioned for silence. Some muffled giggles from the press could be heard, as Mike continued. Tom Landry stood absolutely silent listening intently to every word. When Mike finished, the silence was defining.”
“Landry took his intense stare away from Mike and looked directly into the cameras. ‘This guy really knows his stuff and I intend to use his advice in tomorrow’s game.’ After a few polite chuckles from the crowd Mr. Landry spoke again only much louder this time. ‘I'm not kidding here, folks. This guy knows his stuff and he just throttled me with some great advice which I intend to use!’ Mike was beaming!”
This was just the beginning of the magical wish that was about to unfold. “Make- A-Wish turned every challenge into an opportunity to make Mike feel 12-feet tall.”
Michael visited the Dallas Cowboys locker room and cheered on his team as they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles. Later that evening, Michael joined some of his favorite players at a post-game barbeque held at Randy White’s home. Dean recalls Michael’s favorite part of the trip as spending time with his family and meeting his heroes. “He and his brothers got to hang with the people he so adored and looked up to.”
Front Page News
The morning after the big game, Michael was met with yet another big surprise.
“We finished breakfast and left the restaurant. As we stepped onto the sidewalk, we had to maneuver around a newspaper vending machine. And there it was. Displayed on the front of the machine was the front cover of the Dallas Times. Right there in the center of the front page was a big picture of Mike, standing and cheering on his beloved Cowboys!” says Dean.
“We were so excited that it took us more than ten minutes to get a quarter in the money slot. Mike was jumping, shouting, running, and fist-pumping, showing the paper to total strangers who in turn got swept up in the excitement and cheered him on.”
Memories like this one remind Dean of Michael’s 12-feet tall moments during his wish. “His face would be beaming, and you knew that this was one of the few times in his life that his wide smile was effortless. You never wanted those rare, precious moments to end,” he says.
Impact of a Wish
Michael’s wish provided him and his family a break from the day-to-day struggles of his condition. Describing the experience, Dean says, “For a few short days, and for the first time in his short life, Michael had no disease. He had family, he had heroes, he had excitement, he had uninterrupted joy in his life.”
The joy Michael felt during his wish trip did not end when he traveled back to Toledo. “After Mike’s visit with the Dallas Cowboys, he and Randy White wrote letters back and forth and spoke on the phone,” says Dean. “The magic that is a wish lives on long after the child returns home.”
He shares, “There is no disease that I know of that can't be cured, even if only for a few days, or only a few hours, by completely distracting the child from the disease. I promise you, when they are living a dream come true, they are no longer thinking of illness. If they are no longer thinking of their disease, it has for all intents and purposes, vanished. You can see it before your eyes in the face of the child. There is no drug or treatment more powerful.”
Dean recalls how valuable the memories they made on the wish were to Michael. “The wish distracted Mike from his illness. We weren’t thinking about CF. After the wish, Mike experienced a remarkable period of good health. There is no doubt in my mind that Mike’s wish bought him more time. During his wish, he just didn’t have time to be sick. It’s like someone hit the pause button and Mike just got to be a kid. All of our family agreed.”
Leaving a Legacy
Michael passed away almost three years after his wish, but his wish experiences and the memories made still bring joy to his loved ones. His family, baseball coach and high school started a foundation to share Michael’s inspiring legacy with others. Each year, one outstanding athlete at Michael’s high school is awarded the Michael Hudson Athletic Achievement Scholarship, an honor that commemorates Michael’s big dreams and love of sports.
More than 28 years after Michael’s wish, “The family talks about Michael’s trip as though it were yesterday,” says Dean. “Make-A-Wish becomes and stays a part of the family.” The entire family, including those who never had the chance to meet Michael, continues to be inspired by his wish. “Even though they couldn’t experience it with Mike, they still lived it. It’s just as if they did. They know how important the wish was to Mike. It was a highpoint in his life and it was and is a highpoint of ours.”