Make-A-Wish: Christopher Tarzia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 8News is taking the lead by teaming up with Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia to help grant wishes for kids battling critical illnesses.  

8News anchor Katie Dupree sat down with a Glen Allen teen whose wish for a trip to Italy was granted after winning his fight against cancer.

 “I’ve got to tell you, I never thought my kid would be a Make-A-Wish kid, because I knew what that meant,” Chris Tarzia says.

Tarzia’s son, Christopher, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia two years ago. But a few weeks after his diagnosis, additional tests revealed an even bigger, more unique challenge.

“It kind of felt like the walls were caving in,” the father recalled. “It was the first time in my life where I couldn’t — as a father — there was nothing that I could do.

“We went from a 95% cure rate to nobody knows because none of the adults that acquired this rare disorder had ever made it to a bone marrow transplant.”

Doctors at Duke Medical Center taught Christopher’s parents how to take care of him — from daily blood draws and samples, to hooking up his food bags and IVs.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize kinda what goes on behind the scenes. So that’s what adds to a lot of the stress as well.”

Christopher was granted his wish through Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia but had to wait until he was healthy enough to travel. He spent months recovering after his sister Brianna donated bone marrow for his transplant, dreaming of his wish.

“Missing out on all the stuff your friends are doing,” was hard for Christopher while he was battling leukemia.

Finally, after the bone marrow transplant, he started to get better, and focused his attention on the trip of a lifetime — all the way to Italy.

When asked how he decided on Italy, Chris said, “I always played racing games when I was younger, so Lamborghini was always my favorite brand, so I thought going to Italy and seeing a Lamborghini was definitely something that makes up for it.”

Christopher got his wish of riding in a Lamborghini through the streets of Italy at 140 mph.

He and his family visited quite a few cities and enjoyed their time together–without worrying about any health challenges.

“It does give that light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s no better excitement when you go on that wish and you just see your kid smiling,” Christopher’s father Chris explains. 

Today, Christopher is doing well. “I’m great…I feel like I never even had it.”

You can help make wishes like Christopher’s come true. Donate money or your unused airline miles Tuesday, April 16th in the “Wishes in Flight” telethon right here on 8News.

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