(James and his family flew to Los Angeles, California for James' wish to be an animated character voice at DreamWorks Animation.)
Even as a young child James could do animated character impersonations and quote his favorite movies. His whole family enjoyed watching movies, escaping into a different world for an hour or two together.
But then, one day, James’ life became a movie-like drama that he never thought he would encounter. James became very ill and was eventually diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a disease affecting his bladder and liver. This diagnosis affected the whole family and turned what used to be family movie nights into family hospital visits.
“James’ diagnosis was a complete shock to us,” said his mom, Mary Elizabeth. “But we remained strong and would watch movies to distract James. We also encouraged him to continue quoting his favorite movies and impersonating characters to keep him grounded during this difficult time.”
James was referred to Make-A-Wish® Colorado in May 2012 and took some time to really think about his wish experience. He debated between a few different options, but then remembered back to what his mom first said after being referred.
“I told James to wish for something that we, his family, couldn’t reproduce,” said Mary Elizabeth. “James has a vivid imagination and we wanted him to think of a wish that was unique and special to him and would stay with him forever.”
Given his love for movies and character impersonations, James decided that his wish would be to become the voice of an animated character. After learning of his wish, Make-A-Wish worked closely with DreamWorks Animation in Los Angeles, California on creating a character in an upcoming film for James.
For his wish experience, James and his family flew to Los Angeles for the ultimate movie-making experience. James was given a tour of the DreamWorks Animation studios and learned about the process of making an animation film and working with actors to bring animated characters to life. He also met with DreamWorks Animation directors and producers who showed James the movie story board and trained him on voice recording for his special character.
“The entire wish experience was unforgettable,” said James. “But I have to say that recording the character lines in studio with the movie’s producers and directors next to me was the best part of the whole wish.”
After recording various scenes for his character, James and his family continued their tour of the studios and enjoyed the rest of their trip to Los Angeles.
James and his family returned from the wish experience with a new appreciation for movie making and film directing/producing. James is now in remission and has hopes of one day becoming an actor. He is currently taking a theater class in high school where he excels at impersonations and memorizing lines.
“This was the perfect wish for me,” said James. “I was able to escape from the realities of sickness and act like a normal teenager again. Thank you Make-A-Wish for making my wish come true.”
Thanks to the generosity of DreamWorks Animation for helping make James’ wish possible. Keep your eyes open for the movie trailer, “Home” and listen for James’ character in the November 2016 film.