While I have always felt a strong connection with children’s services like Make-A-Wish, it wasn’t until a close friend’s son was going through a battle with cancer that I began to fully appreciate the impact that charities like this have. Ever since, stories like the one I am about to share with you have always touched my heart in an even stronger way.
Three-year-old Colton and his family had made the trip from Oregon to visit Disneyland as part of their Make-A-Wish experience. Colton was born without an immune system and was only able to make the trip due to a life-saving bone marrow transplant. As an Iron Man fan, this young fella arrived at the Chamber of Commerce, dressed completely in his favorite Iron Man attire, when Nathaniel Pester, Guest Relations Trainer at the Disneyland Resort, saw an opportunity to make some Disney magic.
Nathaniel was training two other cast members at the time and showed them an example of how a guest relations role can help families create lifelong memories. When the family returned at a scheduled time to meet Colton’s idol, Iron Man, they got the surprise of a lifetime.
It wasn’t Iron Man who walked out… it was Black Panther, accompanied by his trusty Dora Milaje! Gamora soon followed with Doctor Strange not far behind. Super Hero after Super Hero arrived, with Colton too stunned to speak. Finally, Iron Man walked out and was standing face to face with his smaller alter-ego. As the two exchanged poses, Colton’s mom, Kayla, said through tears, “It’s like looking into a mirror!”Disney Parks Blog
If that isn’t Disney magic, then I don’t know what is. I’m going to let you read what happened next in Nathaniel’s own words; they are pretty special.
After the Super Heroes gathered for photos with Colton and his family, Colton was made an honorary Super Hero. “He truly believes with his entire heart and soul that he is now one of them because of the special time and attention they gave him,” said Kayla. “It was just a moment for them, but it was truly life-changing for him.”
Before everyone waved goodbye, the family shared that it was Colton’s older sister, Khloe, who donated her bone marrow to save her brother’s life. That’s when Black Panther knelt down and told Khloe that she was the real Super Hero.
After all the tears and hugs, I turned to the cast members I was training and said, “This is what we can do here at the Disneyland Resort. This is a moment that will stay with Colton and his family forever.”
And it will always stay with me, as well.Nathaniel Pester
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.