Wish stories

Jack's wish...

“I wish to have a prom for my 10th birthday”

9 years old, Sunderland

Sanfilippo syndrome

104% funded

Imagine losing control of your own body and not being able to talk about it. Jack, nine, from Sunderland has never uttered a full sentence. At 16 months, he was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome - a rare type of childhood dementia, causing fatal brain damage and leaving him in a wheelchair and without speech. Tragically, there is no treatment and most patients never reach adulthood.

Jack's story

November 2019

Jack in hospital, wearing a hospital gown with a plastic dummy around his neck and a cheeky smile on his face.

Silence is golden

"With him being non-verbal, Jack has taught us that love needs no words."

Gemma, Jack's mum

A book with no words

The devasting diagnosis in the earliest chapter of his life was inconceivable for Jack’s family. Mum, Gemma, said the news was like an out-of-body experience:

“It was like they were telling someone else. I can’t explain the feeling, even ten years on.”

Unfortunately, Jack’s dementia means he is only regressing in health. Gemma described it as:

“Lately it’s like getting a book with no words; it’s hard to read him.”

The family find it hard to do things together due to Jack’s medication and inability to participate in many activities. This leads to the often unseen struggle for the family, as Jack’s parents share responsibility for looking after him and taking out his sister, Lucy.

Jack's wish

Filling in the blanks

With Jack being non-verbal, he could not express his Wish. However, using a mother’s intuition, Gemma plans to bring Jack’s personality to life: he loves school so much that it’s known as ‘Jack’s Disneyland’. He also loves Cheryl and listening to her has helped the family through many tough times, including trips to hospitals and tiring journeys.

Jack has always preferred the company of adults to children his own age. But, despite this, he’s proved that you don’t need words to impress and is known in school as ‘Jack Hefner’ due to his affinity with the ladies! This may be due to possessing the “best laugh you’ve ever heard.”

With all this in mind - and a helping hand from you - Jack’s wish can become a reality:


  • Music: Cheryl
  • Guests: Friends (& ladies)
  • Theme: Celebration

Main Course:

  • A very special prom for a very special boy
Jack, wearing a red t-shirt and an inflatable unicorn hat, is sitting in a hot tub with his dad and looking into his dad's eyes.

Jack playing in a hot tub with his dad

End of the chapter

Sadly, Jack has never truly celebrated any milestones in his life due to his debilitating condition. He can’t play with toys, so birthdays and Christmases bring only practical gifts, but with your support, we can help Jack celebrate not just this year, but all ten!

Every year I cry. His birthday signifies another year over.

The family have turned to Make-A-Wish so that they may make memories to treasure for a lifetime, no matter how short that may be.

Mum said: “I’ve invited people that have impacted Jack’s life, like his nurse, barber and his teachers. It’s for us all to share and enjoy time with Jack.”

How Jack's wish helped

Jack sitting in his wheelchair and wearing a colourful tuxedo, with his name in giant lights behind him.

Jack with his name in lights

Turning the page

The wish was the personification of Jack at his happiest: cool, calm and relaxed. Despite it being a brand-new experience for the family and Jack’s parents being apprehensive to his reaction, Jack took the day in his stride. After donning his suit and rolling up in his limo, Jack entered his first ever party to celebrate his birthday, his prom and his life.

Gemma said: “It was the best children’s party I’ve ever been to.”

Jack spent the day playing, dancing and entertaining. Gemma commented: “It was like Christmas when all the ladies were around him - he was lashing the kisses out for fun. I’m surprised his lips weren’t sore!”

In a life where time is precious and uncertain, Jack made the most of ever minute of his wish. He danced through a whole song with his mum for the first time, smiling throughout and his video from his idol, Cheryl was certainly a highlight:

“I don’t think I’ve seen him smile the way he did when Cheryl’s video came on. It was a dream come true.”

Jack in the back of the limo before heading to his prom, with dad in the background.
Jack posing in front of a floral wall with his mum and dad, during his prom.

Nothing more to say

Gemma and Jack’s family have had to come to terms with one of the hardest things imaginable – the imminent loss of their son as Jack has now been moved on to palliative care.

Gemma advised: “It’s alright not to hope. Everyone hopes something will come along, but you have to come to terms with it. We hit a brick wall when treatment didn’t work. Now, we’ve learnt to just enjoy Jack and we say ‘Great, this is our Jack for this week.' It’s totally true that you can’t worry about tomorrow.”

Through his wish, Jack and his family have been able to enjoy quality time together when it counts the most.

"Jack's wish is a memory I will cherish forever. It will never die. For the whole 10 years he’s been alive and however long he has got left, the party has encompassed that."

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Sponsored donations made towards a child’s wish will go towards their One True Wish. If a child’s wish receives over funding the additional donations will be put towards a similar wish. If a child's wish doesn't reach 100% funding their wish will still take place and general funds will be used.