Nine-year-old Andrew Hedberg of Southington, walked downstairs with his eyes closed in anticipation of seeing his newly renovated room. With friends and family by his side, Andrew opened his eyes in excitement during the unveiling of a nautical themed room, equipped with a foosball table, a flat screen TV, a popcorn machine and a pool table, along with new furniture.
“I can tell I’m going to be down here a lot,” said Andrew, as he looked around his new room. “This is everything I wanted.”
For Andrew, seeing his new room was a wish-come-true—a wish made possible through the partnership between FrontStreet Facility Solutions and Make-A-Wish Connecticut. FrontStreet Facility Solutions, a maintenance and management company in Trumbull, partnered with Make-A-Wish to help execute the project through painting services, heating vents, ceiling tile replacement/repainting, lighting and carpet installation. FrontStreet also helped provide in-kind donations for tables, a television, surround sound, hardware and game tables.
“I wanted this because I knew this would be with me forever,” said Andrew, adding that choosing a new room was more memorable for him than taking a trip to Disney World, which he would not be able to keep. “I wanted this for a long time.”
“I have not seen him this happy in a long time—he’s glowing,” said Andrew’s mother Karen.
In January 2012, Andrew was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that mostly occurs in children and young adults, according to the American Cancer Society. After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, Andrew is back on track now. Karen said her son’s life is back to normal, as he just started golfing and swimming.
“He’s cancer-free,” said Karen, adding that Andrew is still under surveillance every six months. “We’re grateful he’s doing well and happy and getting back to life.”
“He’s a brave man,” added Lori Foligno, Andrew’s aunt, who joined friends and family during the unveiling of the renovated room. “He got us through all of this through that great smile.”
During a celebration held last week, Andrew showed his friends the new room, which will serve as their hang-out area. The project started April 21, and was completed in about a week. The West Hartford Olive Garden provided complimentary catering for the celebration after hearing about Andrew’s wish and love for pasta.
Andrew said he felt grateful for having the opportunity to share his longing of a new room with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to give them strength, hope and joy.
“It’s just so amazing what Make-A-Wish can do—it changed my life,” said Andrew, adding that choosing a nautical theme for his room was a no-brainer because he loves the beach.
Founded in 1986, Make-A-Wish-Connecticut is just one of over 60 regional Make-A- Wish chapters in the U.S. and its territories, according to the Foundation. From the time it began in the state, Make-A-Wish Connecticut has granted over 2,400 wishes.
“When we heard about Make-A-Wish it was exciting,” said Andrew’s sister, Katherine, adding that her brother’s diagnosis two years ago was a shock for the whole family. “He’s such a bright kid—he definitely deserved to make his wish.”
“I’m so happy for him and that he’s happy too,” added Andrew’s grandmother, Helen Hedberg, who looked around the new room in amazement.
The unveiling of Andrew’s new room took place on April 29, which was “World Wish Day,” a nationally celebrated event to honor the first wish that came true through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, said Michael Dominick, the community and media relations manager for Make-A-Wish Connecticut.
Dominick said every Make-A-Wish chapter worldwide will grant all kinds of wishes on that day to remember the grassroots beginnings of the Foundation, which started over 30 years ago. He added that World Wish Day serves as a wonderful way to celebrate Andrew’s wish and the wishes of other children worldwide.
“It makes us remember where we came from and how many lives we touched,” said Dominick, reflecting back on the first wish the foundation ever granted in 1980 to a seven-year-old boy in Arizona who wanted to be a police officer.