Chandler teen Charles Malpica is getting an early present — a trip to Hawaii to swim with sharks, granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“I’m not really sure what I want to do as a career path yet, but marine biology is one of them,” Charles said.
The 17-year-old is a sophomore at Chandler High School and plays football. He said he has never been in the ocean before, but has always watched documentaries on marine life, especially prehistoric marine life.
“I’ll get to swim with 10 species of sharks,” he said grinning.
Even when he relaxes his face, Charles still has a smile.
“We really want to get to why, what’s in your heart when we grant a wish,” said Elizabeth Reich, Arizona Make-A-Wish chapter president and CEO. “We want to make sure that it’s your absolute lifelong dream.”
The family will leave in February for Hawaii.
“Means a lot, it’s hard to put into words,” he said quietly.
Charles was diagnosed with cancer the same week he turned 17 in May, said his mother, Janet Malpica.
“Us being together, being able to spend time together and have something he always dreamed of.” Janet said choking back tears.
“We’re so blessed,” she added. “For everyone to do this for him, it’s a blessing. We’re so grateful for everyone involved.”
Charles left the hospital Thursday night after finishing his seventh cycle of chemotherapy, his mother said.
“We scheduled chemo early to come here on Friday,” Charles said. “I feel great right now.”
The family has never been to Hawaii before, but Charles, his mother, father, sister and nephew will all be able to go on the trip.
“The illness really affects the entire family,” Reich said. “We want all the family to be included in the wish if we can.”
Make-A-Wish was founded in Arizona. The charity provides more than 14,000 wishes nationwide, with 288 in Arizona last year.
“Every (nominated) child with a life-threatening disease between the ages of 2-and-a-half and 18 years old will eventually receive their wish,” Reich said.
Currently, there are 430 children waiting for wishes in Arizona, she said.
“This year we’re budgeted for 280,” Reich said.
In celebration of Macy’s National Believe Day, Charles’ Make-A-Wish presentation was at the Phoenix Biltmore Macy’s.
Included in his wish is an extra gift from Macy’s.
“We want to send him off in a complete Hawaiian fashion,” said Mary Jo Johnson, Macy’s store manager. “That of course includes a swimsuit, but also shirt, shoes, luggage. Anything he would need.”
Charles’ presentation was just one of 60 happening at the department store’s locations throughout the country. The charity and Macy’s have a relationship that goes back to 2003, when they partnered for the first Believe Day.
During the holiday season, Macy’s donates a dollar for every letter to Santa mailed from the store. On Friday, however, Macy’s donated $2 for every letter, up to $500,000, in addition to their goal of $1 million during the holiday season.
“All letters are sent straight up to the North Pole,” Johnson said. “And if you’ve been good, Santa’s going to grant that wish.”
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