Three months pregnant and expecting twins, she received the phone call every expecting mother dreads: a nurse describing potential complications. Frantic and scared, she quickly hung up only to realize that one of her twins would face lifelong challenges.
“I remember when I was going [to the sonogram technician],” Aja McCellon, mother of George said, “I had never even heard of that.” “You hear of things such as mental retardation. You know what that is, but not things like hydrocephalus.”
Nine-year-old George has been living with hydrocephalus. Also called “water on the brain,” the disease is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain that can cause pressure in the skull, enlargement in the head, and mental disability.
He also has agenesis, a birth defect in which the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain is partially or completely absent.
Cara, his older sister and self-proclaimed bodyguard, has been looking out for George for all of his life. This blended Brady Bunch has a pair of twins and a daughter from the mother’s side and three more children from the father’s side. For John, becoming George’s stepfather was an easy transition, as well as life changing.
“George came into my life about two years ago and everything about me has changed,” John said. “I have a different lookout towards life altogether. You can’t have a bad day, really. You might think you’re having a bad day, but then in five minutes later it’s a whole different story.”
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has only two requirements: the child must be 2 ½ to 18 years old and have a life-threatening condition.
“The child can be referred by either their parents or by their physician or by a school nurse or a social worker at the hospital or themselves,” Wendy Frizzel, director of development said .
In George’s case, his school nurse at Union Hill ISD referred him. His nurse’s referral will have a lasting impact on George.
George’s wish was be sponsored by the leadership class of Tyler Junior College. This was the fifth year the class has selected a child to grant a wish for. Their donation strategy was simple yet effective, ranging from selling raffle tickets to a human auction.
They reached their goal as a result of their drive and George’s wish commenced on Thanksgiving.
George’s wish was to visit the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He and his family were taken to New York City and were able to ride the Empire State Building elevator. The next morning after their stay, they were picked up by a limousine and placed in a shuttle to arrive at the parade. Make-A-Wish arranged so that three of his favorite floats passed right in front of him including Dora the Explorer.
George’s wish and memory will have a lasting impact on him. Frizzel also said that whenever a child is upset or struggling due to their condition, they tend to pull out their pictures from their Wish in hopes to escape reality.
George still wears diapers and is attending the second grade as a 9-year-old, but his mother described him as smart and funny by being able to type and spell flawlessly. He continues to reach milestones. After years of pureeing his meals, George was able to eat solid food recently. After a recent visit to TJC to talk to the leadership class, Mrs. McCellon watched George walk back toward her, side-by-side with her husband, and said “I wouldn’t want George any other way.”