The founder and president of the Breast Health and Healing Foundation, Dr. Kathleen T. Ruddy, keeps a blog and has been writing on a similar topic. Our latest project is to spread happiness and improved mental health to breast cancer survivors. Today I will share a post that Dr. Ruddy has written on the Breast Health and Healing blog. Make sure to check out this blog as it has some other great happiness tips.
Happiness is Riding on a School Bus
I enjoyed a great conversation at a fund-raising dinner for the Morris Arts Council last Thursday evening when I sat next to the gentleman who is the director of Make A Wish Foundation for New Jersey. One of the guests at the table asked him what he thought was the best wish he’d granted to a child with a life-threatening illness. I’m sure she was expecting something grand for an answer, perhaps a safari to Africa or golfing with Tiger Woods. But, no, it was something very simple. And the story he told is a parable for how little it can take to make a dream come true.
The case involved a very young child, barely three years old, who was dying of a brain tumor. Each morning he watched from the living room window as his three older brothers boarded the bus to go off to school. It always pained him to see them go, and thrilled him when they returned. He didn’t understand the part about how they were going to school, only that they were going someplace exciting and it was the bus that took them there.
Then one day a representative from the Make A Wish Foundation arrived and asked him what he wanted more than anything in the world. It’s amazing how often these children who are at death’s door want something for someone else, usually a parent. They then have to be encouraged to think of something that they want for themselves. Most children his age want to go to Disney World. Boys a little older want to meet a sports hero. Teenage girls almost always want to go on a shopping spree. But this little boy said he wanted to ride on a school bus.
So Make A Wish arranged for a yellow school bus to pick him up in front of his house one day and he and his mom rode all around town, stopping at McDonald’s and other fine places. He was thrilled. His dream had come true.
Now the little yellow school bus has become something of an icon for the Make A Wish Foundation in New Jersey. Not as glamorous as lunch with Madonna or playing catch with Derek Jeter, perhaps, but nevertheless it tells a story that is pure, simple, and profound. And full of love and joy.
Happiness is a great conversation, a wonderful story, and a yellow school bus.