UPDATE: Noah is only able to see two visitors at a time so his his sister Danae played her violin for him from outside his courtyard:
There’s a void in that mysterious world between dreams of sadness and dreams of joy and that emptiness can be bridged by wishes – wishes of children and wishes by children. Wishes can carry us away from tears towards smiles, even when life itself tries to force us back again. Life wins much too often but, sometimes, life gives way and wishes become reality – if only for a moment.
Make-A-Wish Arizona started the world on a journey where wishes can come true and, since 1980, over 6,000 wishes in Arizona have helped children cross that bridge to reality. Wishes of bikes and trikes and wishes of Mickey and Disney are the norm, but the wish of giving to others is rare. In fact, only one percent of all wishes are wished on behalf of others and Noah Nieto is part of that rare group of children who made a wish that will touch future generations.
Chondroblastic osteosarcoma put an end to Noah’s wish to represent Empire High School on the basketball courts and on the throwing fields of Southern Arizona but the senior made it possible for future boys and girls to benefit from a top-notch discus cage, located just north of the football field at Empire.
Noah competed in the shot, discus and javelin as a Raven track and field standout and he saw a need beyond himself. A worn-down throwing cage would not do, and children he has never met will forever owe him for bridging that void with his wish.
“Wish Granters” Stacy Lowe and Kerry Cowen worked with the Vail School District and the administration of Empire to make Noah’s wish a reality and it all came together on Thursday in front of Noah’s family and a few friends. Mindful of physical distancing and the safety it provides, Noah was unable to attend, but the people gathered to honor his wish, practiced social closeness by sharing in his love, even if it meant from a few feet away from one another. In a way, Noah’s spirit of giving made it feel like all were sharing in hugs of joy.
“He carries himself in a way that I want to live up to,” is what Empire principal Matt Donaldson said during the celebration. Dreams of sadness will always be with us and it’s that sadness that reminds of the love we have but, in time, dreams of joy will be how we will live. If we could only make that wish and have it granted.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org