Make-A-Wish: Steve Hopson visits the ‘happiest place on earth’

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 8:05 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - All month long, Alaska’s News Source featured different wish stories in an effort to share why donated miles play such a big role for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In honor of the foundation’s World Wish Day on Thursday, ANS offers the story of Steve Hopson, who loves the outdoors.

“He’s been camping his whole life,” said his mom, Darlene Hopson.

Almost every photo captured by his mother pictures Steve Hopson exploring the outdoors. Some photos his mother shared display him in a boat, at the beach or fishing from the shore.

However, there was a time when Steve Hopson, who is now 10 years old, wasn’t so active. At age 2, he was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones.

“He had leg pain and then we had to go to Seattle for a biopsy and that’s where we found out it was Ewing Sarcoma and from there he had to do 29 weeks of treatment and maybe about 5 surgeries,” Darlene Hopson said.

Steve Hopson doesn’t remember much during that time, but he does recall going on a memorable trip for a special wish.

“Go to Disneyland,” he said.

That’s right, his wish was to visit the happiest place on earth.

What makes the young boy’s story unique is how far away he lives. Utqiagvik, which is located north of the arctic circle, is one of the northernmost cities and towns in the world.

Darlene Hopson said traveling so far was a big change, but they were determined to do it for him. And from the looks of photos taken during his wish trip, it’s safe to say, the happiest place on earth was delivered.

She added that Steve Hopson is doing great now. He’s seven years free of cancer, but they fly back to Seattle every year to make sure it doesn’t return.

Examples like Steve Hopson are a big reason why Make-A-Wish relies so much on donated airline miles.

“It’s good to keep in mind that these are kids for whom a wish can really open up opportunity and hope, and give them a way forward through their treatments and whatever condition they’re struggling with,” said Hannah Moderow, a communications and marketing manager with Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington.

As of Thursday morning, Moderow said her Make-A-Wish chapter has acquired 955,142 miles so far.

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