It is my pleasure to recap the series premiere of Three Wishes. I must admit that I am an Amy Grant fan from way back … so far back that she only had a guitar and a stool. The beginning of Three Wishes begins with the words scrolled across the screen: If you could wish for one thing, what would it be? My wish for you is that each week you bring two things to watch Three Wishes … a hefty box of Kleenex and a pint of your favorite Ben and Jerry’s to help keep up your strength from crying.
This episode of Three Wishes begins in Sonora, California. The premise is that they call the town and tell them they will be arriving on Monday and will leave on Saturday evening hoping to have accomplished 3 wishes. They erect a huge tent in the center of town and listen to people’s wishes. Word travels quickly and the town center is packed with wish seekers. Amy and the team listen to hundreds of people. The first wish is selected.
Abby Castleberry is a 10 year old girl that was involved in a horrific car accident. Their car made a left turn and was hit by another vehicle. The other car’s bumper went through Abby’s passenger window and injured her face. It was a miracle that Abby survived. We see pictures of Abby before and you can tell that not only was she a very visually beautiful child but she radiates energy. The accident has left Abby with a face that is in two planes, a nose that is in an “s” shape and she has two pieces of bone missing from her skull so she must wear a helmet. She is unable to play in all the sports she used to do such as gymnastics and softball. Abby hopes for surgery to reconstruct her face and skull. One of the most painful parts of this story is that Leanne Castleberry, Abby’s mom, is a 911 operator and she was on duty when the call came in about Abby’s accident. Leo Castleberry, Abby’s dad, feels really responsible because it happened “on his watch”; she was with him in the car when it happened.
The medical bills that the Castleberry family have are incredible. It is so immense that they just toss the bills into a red Tupperware box because they can’t deal with the load. They are fearful that they may have to file for bankruptcy. Amy is touched that this family would be so open to share their story and before she can leave Abby asks Amy to sing a song … she obliges with a song on the couch.
Back in the town square, one of the Three Wishes team, Eric Stormer, sees a young boy that looks a bit lost. Eric pulls him aside and asks him what is wrong. The boy’s name is Bobby Wertz and he is 13 years old. He begins to tell Eric about his father dying when he was 6. He shares how difficult that was for him, like a piece of his heart was taken away. Then his mother remarried a man named Tim. He stepped in and he was a knight in shining armor for their family. He just wants to be able to do something special for him. This will be wish number two.
Back at the tent, the Sonora High School cheerleading squad catches the eye of a team member and they share that the conditions of their football field are downright dangerous. It rains a lot in Sonora and the field becomes a mud bowl. Players are being injured because of the poor footing on the field. They would like a new field, because it is not only their wish, but also their cheerleading coach Darla Mayhew wants this to be accomplished. Darla is in the hospital undergoing treatment for acute leukemia and although she is facing a life threatening disease, her thoughts are on “her kids”. This will be wish number three.
Amy says that now that the wishes have been selected, it is time for the magic to begin. I like that this isn’t a slick production company just moving in with their own agendas. They are fulfilling wishes and much more on the spot as you will see.
Abby is sent to Sacramento to see a specialist to see if she is a candidate for facial surgery. This is a very risky surgery; already some of Abby’s brain matter has receded due to the bone loss in her skull. This would require putting plates in where she is missing skull. This is such an emotional issue for mom because people used to look at her daughter because of her bright eyes and smile and blonde curly hair and now they don’t look at her at all. While they are seeking medical advice, a team of workers are going to make a play house for Abby.
Tim is a deputy sheriff in town. Eric picks up the family to ambush him with a great surprise. Gina Wertz, Bobby’s mom, says that during a financial hardship for the family, Tim sold his beloved truck. Eric calls in bogus police call to Tim. Tim is told to run the numbers on the plate of a suspicious truck. Then Eric tells Tim over the radio that this truck is registered to him. The family comes racing down the road to meet him. A member of the Ford Motor Company presents Tim with the keys to his new truck. But the surprises don’t end there; Tim and the family are given jerseys to Tim’s favorite baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, and told that they will be spending the day at the ball park. Meanwhile, Amy is paying a visit to the court house. Tim has applied to legally adopt Bobby but the paperwork has been held up. Amy is hoping she can grease this squeaky wheel and get Bobby officially adopted. She goes into the courthouse and they are not too happy to see the camera crews, and she is not received that warmly. Amy is worried that they might be arrested. She finally is given the information that she needs to see Judge Pauley. She finds his secretary and is told that he is out flying.
If you build it, they will come … Carter Oosterhouse (of Trading Spaces) is the team member with the task of building a football field and time is short. He may have bitten off a little more than he can chew. As he does his research, he realizes that the best turf available is called Field Turf. It is state of the art turf, it looks like grass, feels like grass and lasts forever. The only problem is that the price tag is a million dollars and the company is located in Montreal. Carter will have to do a face to face meeting with the CEO to convince him to fund this project. Carter must fly to Canada, have the meeting and get back to Sonora for the pep rally which is in 48 hours.
Amy finds the judge and he is definitely flying. Amy does her best to flag him down and he buzzes the field a few times and then he lands. Amy tells him the plight of Bobby’s adoption and he says that he will try but he can’t promise anything.
Carter arrives at the Field Turf offices, dressed in jeans, t shirt, a backward baseball cap and no appointment. The CEO, Mr. Gilman, agrees to see him. Carter meets him in a mammoth board room. Carter spells out the story and then shows him a tape of Darla and he is touched. Carter explains that this is a monumental task but that these are monumental kids. Mr. Gilman says that he will discuss it with his people and he will get back to Carter.
The team is putting the finishing touches on Abby’s playhouse. Abby is unable to do many sports that she used to do. This house will include a lap pool because it is one of the few activities that she can still do. All Abby’s friends storm the site and work on a special table for Abby that will bear their hand prints. The kids are talking about Abby. One girl says that no one can understand why this happened to Abby because she was the best at everything. Amy says that maybe it took someone that strong to survive.
The Wertz family heads to the ball park. Now for the fun … Tim and the family will go down on the field and spend time with the players and then he will throw out the first pitch. Tim is completely overwhelmed. He has to keep turning his face because of the tears that are flowing. Bobby says that after his dad passed away, he was lost but Tim was the anchor that brought them back to shore. It is important for him to be adopted because it will give them an even closer bond, that they will always be there for each other. Tim throws out the first pitch … it was a bit off as most are … have you ever seen our President try to throw a pitch, not a pretty sight. But whether or not Tim threw a strike is beside the point; this is a night the family will remember forever, honoring a good man.
Abby and her family return and as they drive up their driveway they are surprised to see a second house behind their main house. They are completely surprised and thrilled. She has the lap pool, a snow boarding video game that will help her with balance and she can do a sport she enjoys safely. There are places to exercise, spend time with friends, do her homework, and she will receive tutoring because she has missed so much school. The huge team is unveiled to the family and it is just a truly emotional moment for the family to see all the love and support of so many. Gratitude is overflowing. We see Abby take off her helmet and jump in the pool – one of the few places she can take off her helmet safely. She begins to go below the surface and does the butterfly stroke. It was truly breathtaking, like seeing a dolphin leap out of the water … it was beautiful … yes, I grabbed a Kleenex.
It is raining at the pep rally. Carter arrives and says that he has been traveling for the last 48 hours for all of them. Then we see the Sonora High football team crash through a school banner, then the band, then the cheerleaders and then finally the earth mover starting to remove the old muddy field. In it’s place is an NFL quality field … it is incredible. We see Darla in the hospital holding a picture of the new field and expressing her thanks for making her dreams come true.
The Wish Team is not content to just grant three wishes, they also find out about a young waitress that is planning a wedding and doesn’t have the finances to afford it. A local florist finds out about her situation and donates all the flowers for her big day. A woman has 7 adopted children who just wanted to go to the movies but couldn’t afford it. They close down a movie theater and let them all watch a movie with all the popcorn they can eat. Lastly, the repertory company in town had a keyboard that was literally duct taped together. They made a call to Yamaha and a new keyboard took the battered ones place.
Dr. Chang from UC Davis has reviewed all Abby’s history and has agreed to do the surgery. The family is excited, but also there is some fear, especially for Abby, and this hurts her parents’ hearts. There is still the issue of medical bills … the team organizes a carnival to raise money. There are rides, games and Amy Grant does a mini concert. Amy thanks all the sponsors. She says that their time is almost finished but there is one last wish to grant.
She calls for the Wertz family to come up on stage. Tim can’t imagine what could be any better than what the past few days have been for them. Amy calls Judge Pauley up on stage and the family lets out a scream. Judge Pauley announces that he is going to make the adoption of Bobby official. But before he will make the pronouncement, Bobby has a letter he would like to read. It reads, “Tim, you may not know this, but since you came into my life, things have become so much better. Spending time with you is my favorite thing in the world. This day means so much to me because not only will you be my real dad but it will bring us so much closer. You are my hero, you are my dad … I love you!” There is not a dry eye in Sonora or in my living room. The judge pronounces that Tim and Bobby are officially father and son. The crowd goes crazy with cheers. Alright … I think I have moved past the Kleenex, I need a towel.
Amy says that being involved with Abby’s family has been amazing. Amy brings out that red Tupperware box and tells the family that all the bills that were contained in it have been taken care of. Also they don’t have to worry about any more medical bills for the upcoming surgery. There are hugs all around and a promise of a lot of prayers.
Update: Abby has her surgery and it goes really well. 5 months later, we see Abby walking to school without her helmet. She had tutoring all summer and she will only fall back one grade. Her friends welcome her into class with hugs and cheers. Her nose is no longer crooked and her eyes are as bright as ever, and she is smiling brightly.
There are so many hard things happening around the world and in our own country. It has been encouraging to see so many come together to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Who knows what Rita will bring as well. It is nice to watch a show that is dedicated to helping those that are really in need of a wish being fulfilled.
What are your thoughts on the show and what if you had one wish, what would it be? Let me know at Helen@realityshack.com.