Teen finally meets close Facebook friend

Teen finally meets close Facebook friend

This article was published in Dayton Daily News on 10/14/15

By Susan Gnann

After almost a year of daily calls and Skype sessions, Brandon Booth finally got to meet his best friend.

Brandon and Sarah met on a Facebook page that he manages, and a true friendship blossomed. “Seeing her at the bottom of the escalator at the airport was definitely the best part of my wish trip,” recalled Brandon.

Brandon received news that he qualified for a wish granted by the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation (ASW) shortly after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.

For about a month he had not been feeling right, getting sick often, listless and tired. One day Brandon was helping his mom move a couch. A strapping young man at 6-feet-7-inches, he was having trouble lifting the couch, let alone moving it across the room. He was completely winded. Worried, Beth took him to the ER at Dayton Children’s Hospital, and an X-ray showed his left lung completely filled with a cancerous tumor. He was admitted immediately.

“No sense in worrying” are some pretty profound words spoken by 18-year-old Brandon Booth. “I said, ‘I’m just going to deal with it, beat it and get over it.’ ”

It was a stressful time, especially the two weeks that it took to get the actual diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He had four months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation treatments to beat his cancer.

His mom, Beth Booth, recalled that he “never asked himself, ‘Why me?’ ” In his mind it was something that just happened, and he conquered it head-on. That attitude and his strong determination helped him beat his disease and get back to living his life.

“The hardest part of the entire ordeal was not being able to start college with my friends,” Brandon said. The illness itself and the subsequent treatment was just something he “had to do”, as he puts it.

Brandon’s Special Wish was to go to Providence, R.I., where Sarah lives.

With Culinary School starting at Sinclair Community College and Six Flags amusement park closing for the season and Brandon feeling well enough to travel, his wish was a bit rushed. So Dave Seyer, the executive director at ASW, got planning.

Brandon, his friend from Dayton, Megan, and his mother, left on Monday, Aug. 17 for Providence. For five days, they had a blast at Six Flags, visited two beaches and the Culinary Arts Museum. Being a foodie, Brandon also enjoyed some great food throughout their trip. Most importantly, Brandon finally got to meet Sarah and got the insider treatment as she showed them around her hometown.

“They kept me up all night,” said Beth of the three teenagers, “but it was so nice to get away and forget the everyday routine.”

Brandon recently started at Sinclair, in the culinary arts department. He enjoys trying new food and cooking for his mom. He still talks with Sarah every day and is excited about what his future holds.

Some wishes like Brandon’s are sponsored by local groups or specific fundraisers. However, since Brandon’s wish was put together quickly, his wish was entirely funded by the many generous individuals and businesses who give to the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation.

“I want to sincerely thank the people who donated to ASW to help pay for my wish trip,” said Brandon. “It really means a lot.”

“Unfortunately, there are many more local children who are facing life-threatening disorders and are waiting for their Special Wish to come true,” says Seyer, “and we always need the help of the local community to make that happen.”

ASW has made it easy to give in a variety of ways. Those interested in making a donation can text WISHES to 91999, go to the organization’s website at www.aspecialwish.org or send their donation to 436 Valley St., Dayton, OH 45404.