Fresno Fire Cpt. Marc Ognibene writes a letter to Santa with Make-A-Wish beneficiary Michael Campbell, 6. Macy kicked off its annual Believe Campaign Wednesday. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz

published on November 8, 2017 - 1:47 PM
Written by Donald A. Promnitz

“How are you? I hope you are excited to read our letter for you,” R.J. Legarde, 6, wrote in his letter to Santa. “I wish that everybody is healthy and peace will reign on earth.”

He also wished for Legos.

Legarde was born with titin congenital myopathy, a condition that causes him problems swallowing and respiratory issues. He has braces on both of his feet and struggles with asthma as well.

His ailments, however, have done nothing to hamper his curiosity and love of learning. He won the highest academic award at Powers-Ginsburg Elementary School in Fresno when he graduated kindergarten, the Outstanding Citizenship Award. He wants to be a marine biologist when he grows up, and he’s especially keen on studying his favorite subject—dinosaurs.

“He is fond of dinosaurs,” said Milnor Rodriguez, Legarde’s mother. “He knows almost all the dinosaurs, the time they existed, like the Triassic Period, the Jurassic Period, he knows all of those.”

With this in mind, Legarde knew what to ask for from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and last June, he was sent with VIP accommodations to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

“There was also a paleontologist that assisted him,” Rodriguez said.

Legarde’s wish has been fulfilled, but there are 220 more children in waiting. To this end, Macy’s has kicked off its annual Believe Campaign to raise funds for the group. For every letter to Santa dropped off at Macy’s, the chain will donate a dollar to Make-A-Wish up to $1 million. These fulfillments, said Joel Saxton, the vice president for the board of directors for Make-A-Wish in Central California, are a source of hope for many children.

“I just talked to a mom. She hasn’t even had her wish yet, her child hasn’t had her wish yet, but she’s had three brain surgeries,” Saxton said. “So every time she goes into surgery, she thinks about her wish coming up—she’s going to Disney World.”

Macy’s Believe Campaign will run through Christmas Eve. For more information, visit the Macy’s website.

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