Travis has always known he loves making others happy. Whether with his acting, his writing, or simply his friendly smile, Travis prides himself on his ability to brighten a room in a matter of seconds. However, despite the outgoing personality and positive attitude he shows the world every day, Travis has had anything but an easy life.
Travis was diagnosed at four-months-old with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening medical condition that affects the respiratory and digestive systems. Since then, he has endured long hospital stays and countless procedures, a routine that could have easily weakened his spirit. However, Travis chose to be empowered by his illness. Instead of dwelling on his limitations, he lets his condition strengthen his desire to make the world a better place.
In 2004, wish granters visited Travis and asked what his one true wish would be. The imaginative 12-year-old had several ideas, including a giant stage in his back yard where he could perform. After much deliberation, he decided on a wish that would combine his passion for the arts with his desire to help others. Travis wished to have a book published.
Make-A-Wish®, along with a designer and illustrator, went to work bringing Travis’ vision to life. “They took my ideas straight out of my head and put them on paper,” Travis says of the process.
Travis’ wish became a reality on April 30, 2004 when his story, The Spider Who Never Gave Up, was published. The children’s book, which Travis dreamed up during his long hospital stays, was meant to bring joy and hope to those facing struggles similar to his own. The main character is a young spider named Sparkey who is unable to spin a web. After years of trying and some helpful encouragement from his mom, Sparkey finally accomplishes his goal and spins the perfect web. While the plot of Travis’ story is simple, the message is strong.
“The reason why I decided to publish the children’s book was because it tells a story of perseverance, and I felt that it was something that, if shared with the world, could inspire other kids, maybe even adults, to continue pursuing their passions and dreams despite their limitations,” Travis says.
Travis’ story succeeded in spreading hope and joy, but on a much larger scale than expected. Following his wish, Travis completed a three-year book tour, sharing his story with everyone from local preschoolers to famous celebrities, had his book republished by Disney, and was presented the Infinite Wish Award from Make-A-Wish. Travis donated the proceeds from his book to Make-A-Wish, as well as to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, cancer research, and various other organizations.
Travis credits much of his success to his wish experience. “Before Make-A-Wish, I kind of saw a blank canvas in front of me, and that’s a scary thing to an 11-year-old who’s sick. When Make-A-Wish granted my wish, the canvas started to show a picture,” he says. “Make-A-Wish was definitely the starting point for the rest of my life.”
Ten years later, the momentum from Travis’ wish is still growing. “Everyone’s energy constantly pushed me forward,” he says of his life after the wish. As he wraps up graduate school and begins the next chapter of his life, Travis is keeping Make-A-Wish close to his heart. “This wish is something that’s with me everywhere I go,” he says.
While Travis pursues a career and continues his philanthropic efforts, there is no doubt that he will succeed in improving the lives of others through his work. “Make-A-Wish is the reason why I wanted to make an impact on the world – because of the impact they made in my life,” he shares.
On April 30, 2014, Travis will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of his wish come true.