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Hugo Gives Back

  • Hugo working in the lab.

  • At a national conference.

  • Posing with the mascot from Stony Brook University.

“ I managed to beat cancer twice in one lifetime. I was able to overcome this adversary with perseverance, the support of my loves ones, and the hope and inspiration that the Make-A-Wish® Foundation provided me. ”


- Hugo

I remember staring down at the cracked sidewalk as we paced down the upper east side in New York City. It was May 2009, and I was sixteen-years-old—ten years older than when I was diagnosed with my first cancer. My mother, sister, and I were on our way to the hospital. As we entered the building, we walked straight to the elevator and rode up to the 9th floor. I was about to be diagnosed with cancer for the second time in my life. I barely survived a thyroid tumor at six-years-old, and ten years later I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia; however, I managed to beat cancer twice in one lifetime. I was able to overcome this adversary with perseverance, the support of my loved ones, and the hope and inspiration that the Make-A-Wish® Foundation provided me.

The Make-A-Wish® Foundation played a pivotal role throughout my arduous leukemia treatment. They granted me the wish of an incredible shopping spree that I still remember today. However, it was more than a shopping spree; it was an opportunity to forget about my pain, feel normal for the day, and have something to look forward to with my newly purchased outfits.

Today I am cancer free and dedicated to become a physician-scientist, specifically a pediatric hematologist-oncologist/cancer biologist. Although it took me awhile to build up my confidence and assimilate back to school, I am now one year away from graduating with my Bachelor of Science from Stony Brook University. Being a cancer patient for over ten years has gifted me with both empathy and the drive to make a difference for all of those who are or will undergo cancer treatment. For this reason, I will continue to broaden my research experience at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee—I was offered a paid internship for ten weeks this summer.

More importantly, I am not waiting until I become a doctor to make a difference; I am and always will be committed to serving others. The Make-A-Wish® Foundation was there for me at a difficult stage in my life, and now it is one of my passions to be there for them and the sick children they continue to help and inspire. I am now on the other side of the table making dreams come true for wish children. The Make-A-Wish® Foundation will always have a very special place in my heart. As one of their volunteers, I commit to a cause much larger than myself. I am an advocate, and I truly appreciate the hope, and inspiration that the Make-A-Wish® Foundation embodies.

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  • Born with a congenital heart disease, wish kid Randy connected with Southwest Airlines after noticing the hearts on their planes. ❤️ 💛 💙 He wished to spend time with the planes and the people that make them fly, so he wished to be a mechanic for Southwest Airlines! ✈️👨‍🔧 During his wish day, Randy and his new friends checked tire pressure, fixed seat belts and more to ensure all the Southwest planes were in tip top shape before taking off for their intended destinations. Thanks to travel partners like Southwest Airlines for granting life-changing wishes like Randy’s! Learn more about #TripsThatTransform and donate your Southwest Rapid Reward points at wish.org/travel 🛫 #SouthwestHeart Make-A-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire

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