Make-A-Wish fulfills dream for leukemia patient

December 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
This is the time of year when young children write their letters to Santa. One five-year-old had a lot of help when it came to making his dreams come true.

Tomas Nieto, 5, didn't quite know what to expect Friday morning, but it was a day of high-fives, hugs and two heartfelt words.

"Thank you," Tomas said.

Two weeks before his second birthday, Tomas was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Chemotherapy treatments have been part of his life for three years.

"It has been difficult," said Tomas' father Diego Nieto. "We try to make it a routine. It is our new normal."

But there is nothing normal about battling cancer, so the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation surprised the Nieto family.

"Tomas likes wild cats, and so he wished to meet them in person," said Stephanie Brown with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "We are sending him to the San Diego, he is going to the zoo (and) he is going to have a VIP tour with the cats."

The wild cat adventure includes a lot of extras. At times, it seemed Christmas morning had arrived early and wouldn't end.

"I am shaking inside," said Tomas' mother Jenny Nieto. "I'm holding back the tears just because I feel like once they start they won't stop."

Tomas' wish is funded in part by a letter-writing campaign to Santa. At Macy's each letter is worth $1, and on this National Believe Day, they're worth $2.

"For every letter that comes into the mailbox, we make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation," said Macy's Valley Fair Vice President Ed McNally.

Some Fremont teens were so inspired to help, they collected nearly 10,000 letters. The drop off became yet one more gesture of generosity.

"It was really an easy thing to do," said high school senior Kayla Doty. "People wanted to help us."

For all the presents Tomas got on Friday, the best gift for his family came in October when the family received a medical reprieve they had been longing for.

"Tomas knows that he has leukemia, for him to understand and saying 'No more leukemia,' it was the best thing in the world," his mother said.

On Friday, that joy was felt by all, just watching him feel good. For all the letters and wishes come true, Tomas says thank you.

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