SALT LAKE CITY — A cancer-stricken 12-year-old Herriman boy got the chance to live out a lifelong dream of flying in a fighter jet, thanks in part to students a county away who had never met him.
“I was having a good time up there,” Tim Wright said of the adventure. “It was awesome.”
Wright — through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and fundraising efforts of a marketing class at Davis High School — flew over California in a privately owned L-39 Albatros training aircraft at the end of January. He even had control of the plane for a time, pulling off some barrel rolls.
“When you just barely pull up, you can feel like tons of pressure on you,” Wright said.
It was almost as if the “G's” of pressure on the body alleviated “G's” of pressure on the soul.
“A year ago today, he had no hair – thin and pale,” his mom, Amanda Wright, recalled.
Last year at this time, Wright was on chemotherapy and faced an unusual procedure. With Ewing’s sarcoma affecting a section of his left leg, doctors amputated the lower section, then turned his foot and ankle into a joint to connect with a prosthetic limb.
“He’s always been so positive about this,” Amanda Wright said of her son. “He’s always had a huge smile for you — but he just has a smile that lights up a room.”
Now able to walk nimbly on his prosthetic leg and his hair grown back, Tim Wright's cancer is in remission.
More than 46 miles away from Wright’s Fort Herriman Middle School, students in Jeff McCauley’s marketing class at Davis High learned of the boy’s story through a partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
What ensued was a yearlong effort that encompassed an entire class, and employed cutting-edge strategies. Students reached out to their counterparts at other high schools across the state and beyond. A highlight was a text message campaign that allowed people to donate with a keyword.
“It was a national project,” said student Kate Simpson.
McCauley wasn’t certain of a total amount raised, but said the goal was to aim for the neighborhood of $5,000. Wright was also named an honorary captain at a Davis High football game, where he met the students who sprearheaded the fundraising campaign.
“It made everything — all the hard work — worth it just to be able to meet him,” Simpson said. “And that he got his wish granted was really cool.”
Wright said he will never forget the flight, the dates of Jan. 27-31 he spent in California, and the wingmen at Davis High who made it possible.
“I’m glad they were helping to do it,” Wright said. “I’m thankful for it.”