Man joins Air Force Academy years after Make-A-Wish granted him a wish to fly a fighter jet

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(WRIC) — In honor of World Wish Day, 8News is catching up with Make-A-Wish recipient Mark Carnes, whose wish to fly a fighter jet years ago changed the course of his life.

“Flying is what I want to do. And with Make-A-Wish, I want to like help other kids get their wish as well,” Mark Carnes said when 8News first interviewed him back in 2017—soon after his wish.

Carnes was fresh from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida after being given the “all clear” from his doctors following his treatment for stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s Lymphoma.

“We did 0g, we did loopty loops, we did barrel rolls, all kinds of like really cool maneuvers. Flying in and out of clouds and we even zoomed in over beaches and some people cheered,” Carnes explained.

The second time 8News talked to Mark was in 2019. He was a few years removed from his wish but was just as passionate about flying. He was in high school raising money and awareness for Make-A-Wish.

“Kids going in and out of chemo week after week, month after month, for years on end … they don’t have anything to look forward to. And by donating even the smallest bit, it’s getting those kids closer to a better tomorrow,” Carnes told 8News Anchor Katie Dupree.

Fast forward to now, Mark is following through on his dream to fly fighter jets in real life, which all started with his wish.

“I reapplied to the academy and I got a slot for this coming summer to go to the Air Force Academy so I report on June 24th of this year,” Carnes said.

“That single experience cemented that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life and I’m willing to break walls to make that happen. I will do anything to relive that wish experience. And you know here I am going into the Air Force Academy trying to do that exact thing,” Carnes said.

Mark just passed his five-year mark of being cancer-free. He wants to start his own Make-A-Wish chapter someday.

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