Hi everyone....and thanks to you all for enjoying the "My Wish" series this week on SportsCenter...let's get to your questions...
ESPN's 'My Wish' has been ongoing for what seems like years. In total, how many wishes have been granted to young sports fans by ESPN and the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
I think it's 25 now, and still going strong! Of course that doesn't count the many, many wishes granted by athletes privately through the Make-A-Wish folks...
What is your favorite part of the My Wish process?
I love meeting the families and the kids...there's always such love and strength to be seen in their homes. And so often the success of these kids in fighting back from their illnesses has a lot to do with tightness and affection that undergirds these families in the first place. But the wishes are awesome, too! I don't usually go on those, but I wait by my email or phone with great anticipation, and always love hearing that the kids had a great time.
Do you ever have to hold back your emotions when interviewing the parents of the children?
There are chairs all across the country, in some very nice living rooms, that have my fingernails clawed into the armrests so I don't totally lose it! Talking to Cole Johanson and his family, for example, was like trying to get through "Old Yeller" without sobbing .... what a tremendous group of people they are.
I really enjoy your essays and its cool to see that you are working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Does the way in which you write change when you are writing an article presented on TV instead of in print?
I think you want the pictures to tell the story...and whether it's Jamarkus getting to play video games with Tony Hawk, or Shaq Jacobs hanging out in the clubhouse with the Phillies, sometimes you just want your words to stay out of the way so everyone can enjoy the images. And the courage of parents like the Vojacks or Shane Gregory doesn't need a lot of setting up, either. Am I inadvertently talking myself out of a job here, you think? :)
You've been reporting on My Wish now for the last few years, which story do you feel has been the most inspirational to either you or the viewing audience?
Emma, you have a geographic advantage here -- everyone who works on "My Wish" remembers the courage and heart of the late Katie Morris of Oregon...and the spirit of her wonderful family. I'm glad so many people still remember Katie...and I'm sure her sister is going to be on "Saturday Night Live" someday, too!
How hard is it to hold yourself back when you are interviewing with the kids when they say something that is either sad or cute?
I always like to say that the kids don't really have to say anything -- so that they don't feel any pressure. Really, we want to hear from people who care about them, and we want to see them having a great time. But did you see what Matt Vojack said about why baseball is so great? Tremendous! And the ability of Cole Johanson to talk about his battle with cancer was really remarkable to listen to.
Every year you pick 5 children to grant their ultimate wish. What happens to the other sick children who have the same wishes but may be in worse situations?
We only do kids and families who are comfortable being on TV. Many, many other kids have wishes granted by teams and players far beyond the reach of our cameras...part of the purpose of our series is to remind people that these wishes happen all year, thanks to the good people at Make-A-Wish and the athletes involved.
Hello Chris,Three years back, my 7th grade class held a carwash for a student of mine who was sick with lukemia. She is doing great now. I really enjoy seeing your Make-A-Wish stories because it just reminds me that people can still do great things!
That's terrific -- these kids' stories are reminders that we can all do things to help out...even if we're not as talented as Chris Paul!
Hi Chris. My name is Terry Witmer. I live in MI. I was watching SportsCenter Tuesday night when your story on Jamarkus Poole caught my attention. My brother passed away on Sept. 23,1991 because of cystic fibrosis. He was only 17. I would like to send out my thoughts and prayers to Jamarkus and his family. GO JAMARKUS!
I'm sorry for your loss, Terry. Jamarkus' story was very moving, wasn't it? I loved hearing from his mother, Angel, how she works to keep Jamarkus strong and positive. It was shocking to me that it took so long for him to get diagnosed. But he's got great support around him...AND a cool new skateboard, too!
What's it like as a journalist to cover a celebrity story like Michael Jackson one day and then talk to these incredible kids and their families the next?
I'm grateful for all the opportunities...but I have to say -- you're just privileged to sit in Cole's home, or Jamarkus', or Ian's,...any of our children this year or in years past ...to see the spunk these kids all have, and the love that kept them strong. I think of how last year, Akeem's father built him a video controller he could use with his jaw...or Dani Krause's mother talking about the time she spoke for the first time after coming out of her coma...such amazing stories. It's an honor to hear their stories. I think we all may be working for Shaq Jacobs someday!
What are the biggets differences between ESPN and MTV?
My hair is a lot more gray!
LOVE the Show!! Please continue to make wishes come true!! Job Well Done Chris, ESPN, Disney, and Make a Wish Foundation!!!
Thank you, Dean! There are lot of other people I know you'd want to be thanking, too -- all the producers who turn these wishes into compelling TV.
Who has been the nicest athlete yet?
You know, I can't say -- in part because I've only gone on one wish. That was a Kobe Bryant wish, for Sal Torres...and Kobe was still hanging out with Sal and his family after we ran out of tape! Sal could rally shoot the three...be interesting to see him and Cole and Noa Ornellas go one-on-one-on-one..remember Noa and D.Wade?
Hey Chris! Has the My Wish foundation ever done an episode where they had 2 or more kids have there dream come true?
We like to focus on one at the time, so you can really focus on one child's story. I know there are case when something like that happens, though, and the kids have a great time as well.
Who was the boy would did the My Wish with CP3
Cole Johanson...says a lot about Chris Paul that he took such an interest in Cole's story...and admired how he fought his way back. Those two really seemed to click.
Have you ever seen any athletes not handle the My wish situation the right way?
No, I never have -- thank goodness! I think you really ses a different side of these athletes..especially the teams. Like the way the Cowboys all pitched in for Ian Gregory...how about Wade Phillips stepping up there at the end!
Do you feel a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment everytime you film one of these shows?
I do..but not for me! It's not only great for the athletes and the kids, it's great for their families, who have watched their kids undergo such hardhsip -- can you imagine? To see Shaq's dad, Kay, or Kristen and Doug Johanson, or the Vojacks getting to watch their child get a little something back for all the agony they endured...I hope they feel that sense of satisfaction you're talking about. We're just lucky to play our part.
How many years have you done this?
This is our 4th year! And we still love when this time of year rolls around...we're very grateful for the positive response this series gets from viewers.
Who is the most requested athlete that the kids want to meet?
You know what's funny, Donovan? It doesn't really seem to work that way. We get individual wishes from the Make-A-W0hs folks, and try to choose five that show diveristy in as many areas as possible -- geographic, sports, age, the whole shebang. But it's not like there are 50,000 kids who have wishes in for someone.
Do you go on the kid's special day where he/she meets their idol?
Probably a good thing that I don't...you should've seen me at my kids' birthday parties..I fret too much!
any chance you can use your juice in the industry and help Simmons gets Cameron Crowe on the BS Report?
Juice? In the "industry," you say? You must be confusing me with the Chris Connelly who did all that industrial music back in the day. Talented fellow!
Hi Chris, I remember a kid a few years back who met the Colorado Rockies. I think that was the biggest tear jerker for me.
Andrew Pointer, from Wyoming. He certainly faced some serious medical challenges. His parents were saints...and the Rockies went all out for him.
I love the show!!!! If you could pick an athlete then who would it be.
Well, away from our cameras, I know Tim Tebow has done some terrific work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation...so I'm an admirer of his.
Do you miss your days with MTV?
You think I should? :)
I remember one My Wish episode getting an article in ESPN the Magazine. Are there plans to put one of this year's episodes in an issue?
Not that I'm aware of...but if you've missed any, they're all available online for your viewing pleasure...and you can cry all over your keyboard and maybe no one will notice!
Who started the process of My Wish?
As I understand it, the original idea came from the spouse of someone who works at ESPN. Ever since, there's been lots of enthusiasm...on everyone's part...for which we're very grateful!
My son also had Burkitts Lymphoma. My son was 3 and is now a healthy 14 yr old.
That's a great thing to hear. I didn't know how aggressive the treatment for that was. No wonder Chris Paul admired Cole so much. Here's to Cole and your healthy son!
Thanks to all of you for your questions..and for your continued support of "My Wish"...we all really appreciate it!