Thursday, July 5, 2012

Make-a-Wish, and an update on a June 2009 post

In the process of commenting on a Drew Olanoff share on Google+, I had occasion to remember the story of Travis Clark and Gene Kranz.

You may recall this story from a few years ago. Travis Clark was a young boy who was, among other things, a huge fan of NASA. After Clark was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Los Angeles Fox television station KTTV made arrangements for Clark to speak to former NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz via video hookup.

Sadly, the Fox report on this video conversation is apparently no longer online. However, I still remember the part of the video that gave me a smile. At one point Kranz asked Clark if he had any specific questions that he wanted to ask...and Clark pulled out some papers with a huge amount of questions.

And Kranz answered them.

I recently discovered a North County Times article from 2010 that discussed the wish. The article was written on the occasion of the opening of a Riverside office for the Make a Wish Foundation. Clark had unfortunately passed away by this time, but the article included several quotes from Clark's father, Barry Clark (whom I know personally). Here is some of what Barry Clark said:

"Initially, I hesitated to contact Make-A-Wish," said Travis’s father, Barry Clark, of Rancho Cucamonga. "I thought it was only for terminal cases. I learned it was for children with life-threatening illnesses."

Travis got to meet Kranz via satellite from a Houston television station. They spent an hour talking, Barry Clark said.

"He was thrilled to get to meet Gene Kranz. We were all so excited. It was a wonderful moment in midst of a tough time," he said, his voice filling with emotion.

Travis died June 9, 2009, a few months after meeting Kranz.

"On one hand, you’re going through the worst thing you can imagine and on the other hand, you get to experience something so wonderful that you're smiling from ear to ear," Barry Clark said. "We think about it frequently."

For more information about the local Make a Wish office, visit