Established in 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation helps to enrich the lives of youths with life-threatening illnesses by ensuring they realize their one true wish. The wish-granting process is inclusive and accessible, which has allowed the organization to grant over 174,000 wishes since its inception. Cesar has now been part of three wishes, each of them a unique and rewarding experience. The first wish-seeking girl appeared alongside Cesar in a fourth season episode of "Dog Whisperer," while the second young girl wished to observe how the show was made. Courtney Hall's wish was to meet Cesar and experience part of the production process.
Courtney, who is seventeen, lives in northern Pennsylvania and has Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare disorder that causes inflammation of blood vessels. This can lead to vital organ damage, especially in the lungs and kidneys. Courtney has to undergo dialysis daily as a result of the disease. An avid fan of "Dog Whisperer," Courtney was hooked after watching her first episode. Her favorite part of the show is seeing Cesar handle all the different situations he is confronted with. Courtney shares her life with a four-year-old Yorkshire terrier named Sapphire who is mostly well behaved, except for a minor streak of hyperactivity.
Before flying out to Los Angeles with her family to meet Cesar, Courtney had never been on an airplane. For some people this could be a nerve-wracking experience, but she actually had fun on the flight and wasn't really nervous. While in L.A., the Halls visited the Universal Studios amusement park, toured the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and saw the famous Hollywood sign. Still, the main event for Courtney was an exclusive screening of an upcoming episode of "Dog Whisperer," followed by lunch with Cesar and a visit to the set.
Courtney arrived at the production office in Burbank, California in a limousine, another first for her. She and her family watched a sneak preview of the season six premiere episode about raising a new puppy. Biology is one of Courtney's favorite subjects and she enjoyed seeing how puppies grow into adult dogs. Staff members from the Foundation were asked to bring in their dogs, so after the episode screening, Courtney was able to meet the office pack and visit with their owners. Then it was off to lunch in Venice Beach!
When Courtney finally met Cesar, her impression was just like she thought it would be. "He was really nice, like you see on T.V." Courtney didn't have any specific questions for Cesar; they chatted about a wide range of topics. Cesar wanted to know about Courtney's hobbies and about her dog, and in turn Cesar opened up to Courtney. "I learned more about him personally," Courtney said. They talked about family and some of the other projects Cesar is working on.
From Cesar's perspective, Courtney displayed the qualities he looks for in pack leaders. "She's a beautiful soul, very calm energy. She's a sweetheart," he said. He was also impressed with her family and how supportive they are of Courtney. When he first heard that Make-A-Wish contacted his Foundation with Courtney's wish, Cesar was honored to have the opportunity. "It always amazes me that people want to meet me," he said. Cesar loves the opportunity to share his passion with other people who have the same interests, and with Courtney it was especially rewarding. "It's really good to be able to help someone just by being with them and talking about something besides dogs."
Cesar's experiences with the Make-A-Wish Foundation have been overwhelmingly positive. "I just wish the kids could find a way to experience their wishes over and over again." He saw the euphoria that the wish fulfillment brought to each of the children and recognizes the healing power of happiness. "That's medicine right there, it's a way to help humans live." Cesar and Courtney had the chance to meet again when Courtney attended a benefit in New York City for the foundation. Courtney was also introduced to Ilusion, and the three met on the red carpet for a photo opportunity.
Through outreach with other non-profits like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, both Cesar and Ilusion personally as well as the good work through the Millan Foundation will continue to create a more harmonious world for dogs and people and the planet we share.
UPDATE: Courtney has donated a quilt that she made to the Millan Foundation auction. Check it out.
For more information on the Make-A-Wish Foundation visit www.wish.org.