Chat with My Wish's Chris Connelly
ESPN SportsCenter's five-part "My Wish" series chronicles the granting of unique sports-related wishes for five children. Each story and experience will be featured on SportsCenter starting Sunday, June 24 and ending Thursday, June 28.
Connelly will be stopping by Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET to chat. Send in your questions now!
Chris Connelly (1:30 PM)
Hi everyone...I'm Chris Connelly...I'm the host of the "My Wish" series we're running this week on SportsCenter...looking forward to answering any questions you might have...
Jordan, Las Vegas
Great work again, it's good to see such inspiring stories. What was the inspiration behind this project?
Chris Connelly (1:32 PM)
My understanding is that it all began a year ago, with a suggestion by the spouse of one of our directors. Once we got involved with the Make-A-Wish folks -- and started getting such good response from athletes -- I guess we thought we could do something special. Everyone was really pleased with the response we received from last year's series...so here we go again!
What a beautiful & touching series this has been the last 2 years! Chris, what were your impressions of Michelle Kwan?
Chris Connelly (1:36 PM)
I typically don't go on the wishes, so that the focus can be on the child and the athlete. That said, you can't say enough about Michelle Kwan and what she did for Dani Krause...so gracious and thoughtful throughout...very caring. This is one of my favorite stories we've ever done, because the family was amazing and Michelle was so terrific with Dani.
Chris - I just wanted to let you know that you and everyone @ ESPN did an incredible job with Stephan's wish. It is something that we will cherish forever! Doug (Stephans Dad)
Chris Connelly (1:38 PM)
Doug -- your kind words mean a lot to us! I know everyone who saw Stephan's wish has been talking about what a great young man he is, and how loving and inspiring your family is...we couldn't be happier that Stephan and you and your wife Faby had a great day! And thank you for sharing Stephan's story.
tom, orange county, california
last year, this was a 2-week series. this year, it is just for a week. it appears as though most of us really enjoy these stories, why less this year than last? what is the predicition for next year? and, do we have to wait an entire year to see more? i think i speak for a lot of us......show us more-please!! these are the BEST stories on espn!!!
Chris Connelly (1:41 PM)
Thank you, Tom, for those kind words. I think we just make sure "My Wish" remained special...so (hopefully) you could really get into the stories we're lucky enough to get to tell. There are always discussions about what more we might be able to do...so we shall see. But I definitely think we got five wonderful families this year...it was a privilege to spend time with them and hear their stories.
Which stories inspired you the most?
Chris Connelly (1:45 PM)
I think what strkes me most about these stories is the unfailing love and positive attitiude these parents bring to their children. Noa's mother Trudy...Stephan's parents...the Krauses. I loved seeing the back-and forth between Jennifer Walters and her dad about ... well, everything! And I know you'll enjoy Bev and Dan Muller and their Saints' fan, Devan.
Josh (Princess Anne, MD)
I wish we could see more of this instead of turning on the TV seeing Pacman, Tank, and others that ruin what sports truly means to me. I love sports and love the good that comes with it. I want to thank you for the work you do, to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and to ESPN & Disney. To me sports is so special that it can heal the way it can. I remember the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001, when sports just helped heal broken hearts, just as the My Wish series does. Thanks again for showing the good in sports!!!
Chris Connelly (1:47 PM)
Josh thank you. It is good to remember that there are a lot of athletes out there who reach out to these kids everyday and make a big difference in their lives. We're lucky to get to capture some of them for television, but every athlete we worked with this year has fulfilled other kids' wishes in the past.. So you're right -- it isn't all bad news out there!
Tamiko (kansas city, mo)
How do you pick the kids to be on the show? I think this is a great thing and more stuff like this should be happening.
Chris Connelly (1:49 PM)
We try to select a diverse group of kids with diverse wishes -- in terms of sport, and geography and so forth. And then some stories, when you read about them, just grab you and you say, "Wow, wouldn't it be cool if...." I don'tthink we came into this year planning to do a figure-skaing wish. But Dani's story...I mean, what a hero she is, and her family.
Chris, Do you have a favorite My Wish?
Chris Connelly (1:52 PM)
I love them all, are you kidding? Those who recall last year's series might remember Charlie Pena, the Eagles fan, and Matt Vosejpka, the pitcher from Minnesota. But above all, we all remember Katie Morris, who lost her I brave fight with cancer earlier this year. I think the sight of her hugging her friend from her Little League team at Safeco field will stay with me forver.
Justin (Glendale, AZ)
sports fan or not, My Wish is something that ANYONE can watch and appreciate what you guys do. Sports have such an incredible impact on peoples lives (especially kids), it is truly great what you are all doing and in the process making grown men get teary-eyed all over the country!
Chris Connelly (1:55 PM)
And they say we guys don't show emotion! Believe me, sometimes I have to grip the armrest of the chair I'm sitting in when I do these interviews so I don't lose it right them and there. There are families across the country looking at their chairs, saying, "Dear, did the cat rip this one up?"
Nice job, by the way, of scaring the Jimmie Johnson fan half to death with the police lights!
Chris Connelly (1:56 PM)
That was a great moment, wasn't it? I'm sure Jennifer rwas feeling a little anxious before she heard the good news.
Adam (Duluth, MN)
I really do like the My Wish segments on SportsCenter. They are really nice and it's good to do stuff like that for those kids. But can you please change the music for it? I find the music extremely whiny and annoying. It doesn't fit well with the theme of the show. Thanks for changing it!
Chris Connelly (1:57 PM)
You know, I like the music. But if you saw Stephan's wish, you might have seen him get out of the limo at Feway with a roll of his shoulders? His mother Faby told us he likes to walk sometimes likes he's Ludacris. So maybe we'll use that music instead!
Trudy and Noa Ornellas Honolulu Hawaii
Hi Chris, I enjoyed watching the My Wish Stories thus far. You are so good at what you do. What is your favorite part of doing the My Wish Series? You are great.
Chris Connelly (2:00 PM)
Well, you two were great, too! Meeting people like you is the best part. Noa, I hope you're ready for all the agents who'll want to sign you after you took D-Wade to school!
Paul (Ft Worth)
When approached about being on the show, what is the general attitude of most the athletes? Are the stand-offish? Elated? Nervous? Do they require an appearance fee?
Chris Connelly (2:03 PM)
As I understand it, their biggest trepidation is about the cameras...they want to make sure it'll be good for the child, and hot a made-for-TV production. So if they're any convincing on our part, it's just to assure them that our focus is on the child, and that they (the athletes) won't look like they're jsut putting on a show for their image or whatever. From Drew Brees to D-wade,...you can see how committed they are to making sure the child has a great experience.
Eric (Austin, TX)
Chris, I personally have a very difficult time meeting with children who are sick like that. I know it may sound selfish but I don't think it would help a kid if a grown man was breaking down in front of them because of their condition. Do athletes ever tell you that it is too much for them and they can't handle it?
Chris Connelly (2:06 PM)
You know what I've noticed? You'll see this especially in the Drew Brees wish -- these athletes do a great job of breaking down the awe these kids have for them and getting them comfortable....by relating to them as individuals, not just as kids who might have an illness. We saw it last year with Roger Clemens, and Wayne Gretzky and Andy Reid and so many more...they're not squeamish, they're really friendly and interested, and as a result, you can see these kids relax and show their personalities as a wish continues.
Do you ever get to talk much to the athletes that have participated in these wishes? If so, how do they express how they come to grips with it? I mean, I imagine that I would feel so humbled if I were an athlete and a sick or dying kid asked to meet me as their big wish.
Chris Connelly (2:09 PM)
Some of you might remember the Tedi Brusci wish from last year, with young Andrew Geracoulis....he definitely expressed those thoughts of humility, and he did a superb job with Andrew. And I was around for the Kobe wish last year, and he was wonderful with Sal and Sal's family...they spent so much time together, we ran out of tape!
mike (reno NV)
has an athlete ever turned you down for these stories and if so, can you tell us, so we can boo them when we go to games?
Chris Connelly (2:10 PM)
If it's happened, I haven't heard about it! Maybe they keep these things from their emotionally fragile correspondent...
The kids know they are in for a long battle when they are part of Make-a-Wish or some other program. The sick kids I have been around want to know their odds, want to know everything about their condition, and want to keep fighting as long as they can. Just being around them is tremendously uplifting, as I'm sure you can relate.
Chris Connelly (2:11 PM)
Yes...and I think it's important to note that Make-A-Wish isn't just for kids with terminal illness. Many of our children have very positive prognoses. And all of them are real battlers!
Thomas, New Jersey
Is there going to be another Make-A-Wish and if so when? We shouldn't have to wait a year for such uplifting stories!
Chris Connelly (2:12 PM)
I think we feel that doing these stories in a week, with the promotion that the Worldwide Leader can provide, works best for us...but you never know!
Faby LeColst Middlelton, MA
Chris, I?m mesmerized by the series, and not only because Stephan is in it but because of the VERY positive outlook at the end of each of the episodes, and let (personally speaking) that?s exactly what we need. I love everything in it and I hope you and the rest of the very hard working ESPN crew wins many awards from this series. Special thanks to Lisa F. our ?wish? ESPN producer. Stephan HAD the best day of his life and I can easily state that we?ll treasure this experience forever. Love, Faby (Stephan?s mom)
Chris Connelly (2:16 PM)
Faby, that means the world to us. And anyone who has ever wondered whether one person can make a difference in the world should check out Stephan's wish...and you'll see how Faby's capacity for love and joyfulness in any situation has transformed the lives of those around her. It's an amazing thing to see.
Gary (Duluth, MN)
Are most of the children on the show able to recover from their illnesses?
Chris Connelly (2:17 PM)
Yes indeed...and our hope is that all of them will. We like to honor their struggles, the battles they and the families have alreayd faced.
Jason (San Francisco)
I personally seek out these stories at night and want to hear about them after hearing about all of the bad stuff that goes on around the world all day. It's one of the few uplifting stories on TV and I thank you for it as I'm sure the kids do as well.
Chris Connelly (2:19 PM)
These families are just like the rest of us...they never expected they'd have to face these challenges. The courage these kids show, given what they must endure, just boggles my mind. I think it's part of what the athletes respect about these kids...you saw the respect D-Wade showed Noa when they realized they had big days in their lives in common.
Chris, have you guys tried to get any sports stars that turned it down or were just to busy to film it?
Chris Connelly (2:21 PM)
I know Michelle Kwan turned her schedule inside-out to make Dani's wish a reality. And Dwyane Wade was jsut hours out of surgery when he faxed this handwritten note to Noa. Jimmie Johnson had lots of other resposibilities the week he hung out with Jennifer. So what we see is athletes who really make a major committment.
is thier a dale jr fan out thier if so are they going to do a make a wish on him if so when can i watch it..
Chris Connelly (2:22 PM)
Can't tell you -- but I have heard that Dale Jr. has fulfilled many kids' wishes in the past.
As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I know how much that must've meant to Stefan. It was really nice to see that. I can't believe he got to sign the Green Monster...what a lucky kid. It sure was neat to see, that was a great episode and I know that Stefan must've loved it.
Chris Connelly (2:23 PM)
How about that home run landing three seats away from him..and Stephan's reaction? That gives me a charge everytime I see it.
tom (the oc)
have you ever had a kid whose wish was to be an anchor on SportsCenter?
Chris Connelly (2:23 PM)
Not that I know of!
Eric (Chesapeake, VA)
How many letters do you guys get each year for requests to be a part of y'alls My Wish?
Chris Connelly (2:24 PM)
Well, all the requests go through the Make-A-Wish folks. They make some 13,000 wishes come true each year, so they're the experts.
Do the athletes continue to be involved with the children after "Make-A-Wish" is over? For example, Dwayne Wade said that he would stay in touch with the kid who met with him. Do they actually do it? How big of an impact do they have on these kid's lives?
Chris Connelly (2:31 PM)
You might remember seeing Charlie Pena at an Eagles game on ESPN last year after his wish. I don't always what happens after our stories, but I do know that their memories of the day are vivid and positive...and they get a terrific amount of recognition and support from people/relatives/friends/classmates/strangers who see the stories. And these kids tell us, knowing that people are rooting for them, in their corner as they fight their illnesses, makes a big difference in their lives. These kids don't want to feel "different" or isolated...and the affection they got on their wishes and afterwards really seem to help a lot.
Chris, sometimes the children come off as being a bit shy, is this the way it is edited, or is that how they really are?
Chris Connelly (2:33 PM)
I think they are shy, especially at first -- I know I would be! I think what you see is their getting more and more comfortable as the wish goes on ...check out Stephan and Devan's wishes for good examples.
Stop making me teary eyed every Sunday morning. You will always be the MTV guy to me though.
Chris Connelly (2:34 PM)
Thanks for remembering my younger, cuter days. Thiese stories are more gratifying to do than getting spat at by Quentin Tarantino, though.
Steve (Miami, FL)
I like how Stefan gravitated towards Big Papi because of all the things they shared in common. When they were walking around the stadium together they looked like Big Papi and Little Papi.
Chris Connelly (2:35 PM)
It was amazing, wasn't it? I guess Stephan was right -- he DOES look like Big Papi!
Paul (Ft Worth)
Are the parents given specific instructions on how to act during the filming of the segment? Or are they allowed to do as they please?
Chris Connelly (2:36 PM)
They're a great safety valve in case things ever get a little overwhelming. But we want them there, and enjoying themselves...in some senses, it's their wish, too.
Do any of the kids ever want to meet with Kobe? Does Kobe tell the kids that they are not talented enough to meet with him?
Chris Connelly (2:37 PM)
Wow, they're tough in Oakland! Ah, but I guess we knew that. Kobe was fantastic last year with Sal Torres. Of course, Sal turned out to have a pretty good touch from behind the arc.
have you gotten a request for a kid to do play-by-play for their favorite team?
Chris Connelly (2:38 PM)
We haven't, as far I know...but it would be pretty cool, wouldn't it?
Thomas, New Jersey
How did this come about in terms of working with ESPN and ESPN.com for My Wish? Is there a My Wish editor out there?
Chris Connelly (2:40 PM)
It can be hard to choose which ones we want to do -- we just want to make sure we get a mix of sports and locations and ages and activities. Not sure what our future plans are, but I know we'd love to do a golf wish or a tennis wish sometime.
Tim (Los Angeles)
I was thinking that you guys should do "Make-A-Wish" every single day but then I realized a lot of the kids probably want to see the same athletes and that would probably be impossible to make happen. Do you guys plan on doing this more often though? I think it's great and would be nice to see more often. You're great too Chris!
Chris Connelly (2:42 PM)
Thank you, Tim! Wishes are granted every single day, by the athletes we've worked with and many more...it's just that the cameras aren't always there to capture them. I feel lucky to get to meet these familes and these children...I know you'll all feel that way once you've seen the Krauses and the Mullers...they're terrific.
How long does it take, from start to finish, to tape one of these episodes?
Chris Connelly (2:43 PM)
In general, the wishes take a day...the interviews take a day..and then, as you've seen, we like to film the kids doing something they enjoy, so that takes another day. Editing them and writing them--that takes a long time!
We need a BEckham one!
Chris Connelly (2:44 PM)
Someone could do free kicks with David, and the red carpet with Victoria! I'd be in.
We could us a soccer one still. Any wishes for that yet?
Chris Connelly (2:45 PM)
My wish would have been for Thierry Henry to remain with Arsenal. But I'm not deserving ... these kids are!
Chris Connelly (2:46 PM)
Hey, thank you all for your questions and thoughts...and for all the good wishes you send in the direction of these brave kids and their loving families. Hope you all enjoy the rest of the series...thanks for watching!
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