When Make-A-Wish asked Joseph if he had a special wish, he said "I want to meet an astronaut." On Thursday, March 26, 1998, Joseph got to meet Captain James Lovell. It was Captain Lovell's 70th birthday, and he was in his hometown of Milwaukee to make an appearance at the premiere of HBO's From the Earth to the Moon.
big day approached, we wondered what would be an appropriate birthday gift
for a legendary American astronaut. Joseph and Nate decided to create
a copy of the Apollo 8 Mission Patch out of Sculpy clay, and they worked
on it for two days, cutting it out, putting it together, baking and glazing
it. We had read that Capt. Lovell designed the patch himself when
he found out that he would be on the crew of Apollo 8, the first humans
to leave Earth orbit and journey 240,000 miles to the moon. The finished
product looked really wonderful. Joseph and Nate gave the patch
to Captain Lovell, who thanked them nicely and told the story of how he
had designed it to the whole assembled audience. Before they blew
out the candles on the huge rocket-shaped birthday cake, Joseph asked Captain
Lovell to "Make a Wish!"
In the fall of 1997, each Make-A-Wish chapter around the country
asked one "wish child" to write a letter called "My Wish For the Universe"
which would go on a space shuttle mission in April 1998. Make-A-Wish
of Wisconsin asked Joseph to be its representative to write a letter because
of his interest in space. He gave it a lot of thought, and finally
dictated a list of things that were important to him, and from that list
he came up with a very special letter. Because the chemotherapy had
caused some nerve damage to his hands, he was sad and frustrated to find
that he couldn't write his own words on the special "My Wish For the Universe"
stationery very well, so Nate copied the remainder of Joseph's words on
the paper, and it was that letter, dictated by Joseph and penned by Nate
that went up on Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-90, on April 17th 1998.
Read the Text of Joseph's Letter
is a picture of shuttle Columbia roaring into orbit with 7 astronauts,
many neurolab experiments, (including a whole zoo of animals,) and a packet
of letters by wish kids, including Joseph's. Make-A-Wish sent our
family on a wonderful trip to see the launch, which we watched from a special
VIP viewing site. It was so moving, we loved every minute of it.
Joseph was amazed to think that his letter was floating in space 150 miles
overhead for 17 days, coming around again every 90 minutes at 17,500 miles
per hour. How many 6 year olds can have such an experience?
David on the front lines to video the launch.
entertained themselves for several hours waiting for launch time.