OWENS CROSS ROADS, Ala. (WHNT) – Make-A-Wish Alabama has nearly 300 children waiting on their dreams to come true. Some kids wish for things, others wish to meet people; Anderson Hess wants to go to the beach, but not just any beach.
“I want to go to a fancy beach,” Anderson told his mom Anna.
The Hess family worked with Make-A-Wish to find the perfect beach, snazzy enough to meet Anderson’s request. They found the Aulani Resort in Hawaii, and Anderson just can’t wait to get there. He has already picked out plenty of things to do: meeting Disney characters, riding on speedy water slides and digging up as many shells as he can find.
The 6-year-old loves telling his parents about his most recent adventures, which he finds daily. In the fall of 2021, however, Anna said her son started pointing out new details.
“He would be playing and he would run up to me and say, ‘Mom I have a headache,’ and run away like it didn’t bother him. Or [he’d say] ‘Mom, I smell something funny,’ or ‘Mom I have a weird taste in my mouth,’ And I was like, what is going on?” she said. “What he was experiencing were seizures. They’re called olfactory seizures.”
The family would learn Anderson had a brain tumor and needed an operation.
“It was like a seven-hour surgery. Such a long day and they removed all that they could. They had to leave a little bit because it was too close to his motor cortex so he still has a residual tumor,” Anna said.
He’ll have follow-up MRIs every three months or until seizure activity stops being detected. Anna said none of it, however, has slowed him down.
“He has just taken it like a champ,” she said. “We tell him, ‘You have to do hard things, and you have to do those hard things, but people celebrate you for doing those hard things,’ so I’m just amazed at how well he’s done.”
The family was connected to Make-A-Wish Alabama, and they worked together to build a dream trip for Anderson, his two sisters and their parents.
“For us, it really and truly will be a celebration trip. A celebration of him being a six-year-old who can go to school and play and dig in the dirt and a celebration knowing that we have been blessed, blessed with the outcome,” Anna said.
After looking at all of the attractions Hawaii’s resort has to offer, the young adventurer said simply, “I want to go to all of them!”
A single wish can cost up to $10,000. News 19 and Make-A-Wish Alabama are teaming up to host the Wake Up for Wishes telethon on June 22 all morning long on WHNT and North Alabama’s CW! If you’re interested in helping Alabama children get the wish of a lifetime, click here.