A Scotts Valley football player diagnosed with leukemia two years ago had a wish: To go to the Olympics.
And now, his wish is coming true.
On July 31, 18-year-old Erick Murai will head to London as part of an unprecedented effort by the the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make sick children's wishes come true.
"I've really been looking forward to my wish," Erick said, adding that he typically watches the games with his family from the couch every four years. He's especially excited to see the basketball games in person. "I'm really excited," he said.
Erick, who is remission from his cancer, is one of 40 children from 19 states to be a guest at the Olympics Games, thanks to the foundation.
"As far as these Olympic Games go, collectively, this is the biggest wish event that Make-A-Wish nationally has ever done," said Jennifer Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Bay Area chapter of the foundation. "Being granted a wish is a very important part of helping them get through their treatment."
Erick now leads an active life; he even played a bit of football last year for Scotts Valley High. But he still needs to take daily medication and go for monthly treatments at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto. It was there that he connected with the folks at the foundation, who asked at the time, what he wished for.
He dreamed of watching Olympic athletes winning medals, and now he's getting to go with father, Gerrod, a microbiologist, and brother, Christian, 15.
Wilson wouldn't say just how much the trip will cost, but she said "it's a lot." The biggest expense, Wilson said, is airline tickets. That's why the foundation is continually requesting donations of airline miles to offset the cost.
To qualify for a a Make-A-Wish grant, children have to meet three requirements: They have to be between 2 1/2 and 18 years old, have a life-threatening medical condition, and must not have been granted a wish from another organization.
The Bay Area Make-A-Wish chapter granted 27 wishes when it first opened in 1984; last year the chapter granted 342 wishes. Overall, the chapter has granted a total of 6,000 wishes in nearly three decades.
Nationally, the foundation has granted 212,000 wishes since it was founded in 1980.
For their part, Murai's family is thrilled that the teen, who has never traveled outside the country before, gets to embark on the trip of a lifetime, especially because of what he's been through.
"He's got a lot of heart," Erick's grandmother, Jean Murai, told NBC Bay Area. "He's a fighter."
Watch Kim Tere's full report at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-432-4758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.