What would a 12-year-old, going through a tough time confined to his bed and attached to an oxygen tank, want most in the world? Believe it or not, he wanted to meet the president of the state.
Fortunately, there are quite a number of organizations in Israel dedicated to bringing joy to children with life threatening illnesses by doing whatever possible to make their dreams come true. One such organization is Tikva L’Haim (“Hope for Life”), which together with Magen David Adom created a Wish Ambulance that took the 12-year-old cancer patient, Elhanan, for a day of fun that included a visit to an air force base, where he got to see different kinds of planes and watched them take off and land.
Elhanan loves nature and the trip was supposed to continue along a river, but nightfall was nearing and he realized that this part of his dream would have to be put on hold. But he wasn’t ready to go home yet.
He asked the team of paramedics traveling with him to take him to meet the president. Easier said than done? Not always. It’s amazing how quickly red tape can be cut in Israel when the goodwill is there.
When the boy’s condition was explained to senior staff in the President’s Office, there was an instant rescheduling of the head of state’s plans, and Elhanan was welcomed with all the deference shown to a VIP.
President Shimon Peres embraced him warmly, kissed him, gave a him a book of Psalms and told him how pleased he was to see him. Peres told him that everyone has hidden strengths, and that he should remember at the worst of times that he has a lot of strength he doesn’t know about and that he must never, under any circumstances, give way to despair. This inner strength, Peres told him, can sometimes lead to miracles.
Looking at the handsome young Elhanan, the president added: “You have the face of an angel, so inside yourself you also have to be an angel.”
Peres told Elhanan that when Yoni, the youngest of his three children, was a baby, he had polio, and for three days and three nights, burned with fever.
Peres and his wife, Sonia, stood by the crib, watching the infant battle for his life and not knowing what to do except pray. Yoni not only overcame the fever, he walks normally.
“I know it’s hard,” Peres told Elhanan, “but I’m sure that you have the great inner strength required to triumph over your illness. We will all pray for you,” he declared as he handed the book of Psalms to the youngster.
The boy was so overcome with excitement that he could barely speak. After a moment, he told Peres of his love for nature and something of what it was to discover that he had cancer and to live with the illness.. He also told Peres about his school and about his family.