When he was nine years old, Edward Liu, of Dover, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor. Now 11 and facing a lifetime of difficulty dues to his disease, Edward made an unusual request to the Make-a-Wish Foundation – he asked for a gift that would benefit others.
Shortly after his heartbreaking diagnosis, Edward made a poster in school. Xiang Liu, Edward’s father, said, “Each kid in his class was asked ‘If you had one wish, what would you wish for?’ Edward wrote, ‘I wish my family would live forever,’ and drew a picture of the four of us.” Xiang added, “Edward was the sick one, but all he wanted was for us to not die. That’s exactly the type of kid he is.”
Rather than falling into depression about his medical condition, Edward continued to think of others. When he was given the chance to have wish granted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation, he could have asked for anything! A trip to Disneyland.
A fantastic vacation to an island with the family. Or the chance to meet a favorite celebrity. Instead, Edward asked the foundation to grant him an indoor play structure for his school, where his classmates could play and relax.
While Make-A-Wish CEO Charlotte Beattie said about 70% of eligible children request a once-in-a-lifetime trip, Liu had another idea in mind. The Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to grant wishes and change the lives of children with critical illnesses. When Edward was diagnosed, Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island approached him, and offered to carry out any wish of his dreams.
According to Charlotte Beattie, the Make-A-Wish chapter’s Chief Executive Officer, about 70% of eligible children request a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but the young boy had another idea in mind. Make-A-Wish grants more than 15,000 wishes to children with critical illnesses each year, and only 1% of them give their wish away.
Beattie described Edward as “remarkable.” She said, “At a time when Edward and his family are facing a range of medical challenges, they thought not of themselves, but of what could be done to make his school a better place for all children.”
And Edward recently got what he wished for – a high-tech, indoor play structure was installed at his elementary school. Make-A-Wish commissioned Dacon Corporation to design a giant wheelchair-accessible geodome, which measures 15 x 8 feet and comes with a virtual reality gaming system. The school named the structure King’s Imaginarium, following the nickname King Edward given to Edward by his friends.
The geodome is filled with technology that will enable students to play interactive games, make virtual 3D art, listen to music, connect with audiobooks, watch films, as well as some comfy pillows for students to lounge on. Edward’s friends and other students can use the cozy space to relax, learn, and make art projects. “Edward is so happy with how it turned out,” Xiang stated. “It was more than we could ever imagine.”
Xiang and his wife, Jin Zhang, weren’t surprised when Edward used his Make-A-Wish experience to do something nice for his friends. The proud parents agreed that this experience truly embodies Edward’s kind personality.
“Edward’s language skills have regressed and he’s mostly limited to a wheelchair, but fundamentally he’s the same person he was before,” Xiang explained. “All he has ever wanted is to do the right thing and be a person that others look up to.”