Given the opportunity to have any wish granted, chances are one might ask for a luxurious trip or a fancy new car. But for one amazing young boy his only wish was to help the homeless and the less fortunate.
Eight-year-old Sebastian Zuniga-Silva was born with one kidney and diagnosed with Hydronephrosis, a swelling of the kidney due to a build-up of urine as a result of a blockage or obstruction. He was hospitalized for over two weeks as a newborn and given a month to live. He underwent his first operation at one month and has since endured nine more.
“It’s been a rough journey since birth with a total of 10 surgeries, catheter procedures to help him urinate, uncountable follow-up visits and even dying for about a minute after a sedating surgery,” Sebastian’s mother Janine Silva told this paper.
When it came his turn to receive a gift from the Make a Wish Foundation, Sebastian selflessly turned down a trip to Disney World for the chance to help those less fortunate.
According to Gina Christensen Florescu, chief marketing officer of Make-A-Wish, the wishes the organization grants are not just for dying children.
“More than 70 percent of the kids survive,” Florescu said. “We know that wishes are nice for children when they are going through a critical illness, but we also know from doctors that they are an important part of healing,”
Florescu explained how doctors use wishes to offer children hope. “They know that positive thinking can help children to focus on healing – and we have research that proves that,” Florescu added.
Public officials like State Senator Marty Golden and Borough President Eric Adams have worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation on many occasions and have gotten to know Sebastian.
“Sebastian’s heart is as big as Brooklyn,” Adams told this paper. “I wish that our neighbors will take some inspiration from this incredible young man and his volunteer spirit. This story embodies what One Brooklyn is about, and it reminds us how we have the potential to make meaningful change in our communities, one act of service at a time.”
On Friday, May 18, Golden invited Sebastian to visit his office and designated him Senator for a Day. Golden let the young man sit behind his desk and presented him with a gold coin.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in my life but very seldom do you see a child and a family that’s gone through what this one has,” Golden told this paper. “This kid has the blessing of God and with his wish he could have gone anywhere.
“He could have gone on boats; he could have gone to the Statue of Liberty; he could have gone to Florida and to Disney World. And what’s his wish? He wishes to help the homeless and to make sure they have clothes and food.”
Last year, Sebastian underwent his 10th surgery and the hope is it will be his last. “At eight years old, Sebastian is my miracle,” Silva said. “And he’s a strong warrior. For an eight-year-old to think only of giving to others and not himself is a lesson for all of us to learn as adults,” she added.