Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, will be featured on ESPN’s “My Wish” series. ESPN partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to show viewers how star athletes are able to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Hailey Cannaday, a 16 year old from Clintonville, Ohio is battling osteosarcoma. Her mother Maggie submitted her wish to meet Phelps to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Their episode will be shown on Monday, July 20th at 6:00pm on ESPN.
“(Phelps) has been my idol all along, though. He’s a super human. Eight gold medals (in the 2008 Beijing Games) … We may never see anyone ever do anything like that again. It’s jaw-dropping. All of my teammates call him the human Aquaman.” – Hailey Cannaday to the Westerville News
Cannaday competed for her high school team as a freshman, receiving the team’s Most Improved Ceremony. Shortly after that, however, she began feeling pain in her knee. After multiple trips to the doctors, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. Ten weeks of chemotherapy, surgeries, and then another 20 weeks of more chemotherapy interfered with her swim team’s award ceremony, and she never physically received her trophy.
“She has had 10 surgeries in about a year’s time,” Haliey’s mother said. “She had a blood clot from her first port (for chemotherapy) and all sorts of surgeries. She had a nodule in her right lung in February, and they removed it. She had a checkup on May 3 and they found two nodules in her left lung but were only able to remove one. The other was too small. So after this wonderful wish is granted, she’ll have a small break before starting chemo again on July 9. She has had some rocky days, but she’s been a trooper, for the most part.”
Cannaday was asked to come to the high school to pick up her trophy one day, but when she walked in the building, she was greeted by an entourage of her closest friends and family. While at the high school, her idol Michael Phelps told her via Skype that she would be going to Colorado Springs to meet Phelps and see the US Olympic Training Center with him at the beginning of July.
“I’ve never met anyone famous, so to be meeting my idol and the best swimmer of all time … I had trouble just Skyping with him. I don’t know what I’m going to say to him when I get there.”
Cannaday flew into Colorado Springs on Phelps’ birthday and hung out with him at the Olympic training center. Despite battling cancer, Cannaday hasn’t let osteosarcoma affect her dreams of swimming in college.
“I can honestly say this ESPN/Make-A-Wish event is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved with.” – Hailey’s coach John DeRing
Four other sports stars along with Michael Phelps will be featured on the show granting the wishes of different children. The other four athletes or teams are the San Francisco 49ers, WWE® Superstar John Cena, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, and Minnesota Lynx player Maya Moore.
Starting July 19th, ESPN will air one “My Wish” special per day through July 23rd, and then on July 23rd ESPN’ SportCenter will air a one-hour special highlighting all five stories. Each story may also be viewed at ESPN.com following its original air date.
“Make-A-Wish extends its thanks to Disney and ESPN for their support of this year’s “My Wish” series, and for their help in creating these incredible wish experiences and sharing them with the world. Beyond assisting with this year’s series, Disney – which owns ESPN – has been a steadfast friend of Make-A-Wish for 35 years and has helped the organization grant nearly 100,000 Disney-related wishes, including the first official wish in 1980.”
In 2011, Phelps also granted the wish of Logan Mitzel, a child with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy from Colorado. He flew to Baltimore to hang out with the Olympic Legend and grant his wish. Phelps made the families day by pulling out a muscular dystrophy shirt with Logan’s picture on it and asking for his autograph while they were in Baltimore visiting.