HOUSTON, Texas (July 2017): Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life threatening illnesses, found out that Londen was captivated by science, loved watching his local news channel’s daily weather forecast, and aspired to be a meteorologist. After teaming up with Houston’s KPRC Channel 2, Londen’s happiness wasn’t just a prediction. With the expertise of meteorologist Justin Stapleton, the forecast would call for 100% sunshine with Wish Kid Londen’s coolest wish coming true.
Wish Kid Londen has had a difficult journey recovering from a brain injury. During a family trip to celebrate his birthday, he was accidentally struck with an arrow during a family game of archery. The arrow pierced his brain, and he was immediately life-flighted to the nearest hospital. In about a month’s time, Londen underwent 15 brain surgeries. He required stents, a feeding tube, and worked hard in physical and occupational therapies to relearn basic skills that were affected by the injury. Londen must also take multiple medications for a variety of complications including seizures.
It was all sunny skies the day that Londen’s wish came true. Karr Limousine Service arrived at his home with a luxurious limo to chauffeur Wish Kid Londen and his family to the KPRC Channel 2 studios. “Londen said he was riding in a big, fancy bus,” said his mom Fabiola. “He rolled the window down and felt like he was in a movie.”
Once at the studios, meteorologist Justin Stapleton met with Londen and gave him a tour of their entire weather department. He also mentored Londen in all of the necessary technologies to prepare him for presenting a daily weather forecast. “Mr. Stapleton made Londen feel welcome and went out of his way to introduce him to everyone in the news room,” said Londen’s mom. “He stayed by Londen’s side and took the time to explain everything in a way that Londen understood. Londen says they are now good friends!” Londen mirrored his mentor in every way except one. His mom jokingly said, “He thinks it’s weird that people on TV have to wear makeup.”
When it was Wish Kid Londen’s turn, he was positioned in front of a green screen for his big debut. He announced the temperatures of surrounding cities as well as giving a 10-day planning forecast.
“He is an amazingly brave young man,” said meteorologist Justin Stapleton. “I was struck by his passion for weather demonstrated by his mature knowledge of weather concepts and some of the graphics we used here at the station. His enthusiasm for weather percolated not only through explaining how he makes sure his family is wearing the right clothing based on the daily weather, but also in his personality. His humor radiates and lights up the faces of those around him. It was a pleasure and honor to help grant Londen’s wish.”
Wish Kid Londen’s mom said, “He’s always wanted to be a meteorologist, and this experience brought him confidence. He tells everyone that he now knows how to be a meteorologist and that he’s been on TV! When my husband and I saw his report being shown on live TV, we both teared up when we saw Londen on the screen. It was the first time since the accident that we saw a glimpse into Londen’s future dream.”
“Londen has taught me to focus on what makes you thankful not just for yourself and your abilities, but what you can bring to others,” said KPRC Channel 2 meteorologist Justin Stapleton. “My experience with Kids Wish Network was invaluable. It made my heart happy to be able to share some time, and more importantly, share some of my passion for meteorology with Londen.”
After his day as an honorary meteorologist, Wish Kid Londen and his family were once again chauffeured in a limo to The Capital Grille for a memorable celebration dinner.
“We love being able to inspire a child by giving them a wish that fuels their life’s passions,” said Kids Wish Network Executive Director Anna Lanzatella. “We’re grateful to our special mentors whose kindness brightens so many lives. It’s always a very memorable experience for both Wish Kids and their mentors. It makes everyone feel good.”