Tammie Williams’s son, Clive “CJ” Copeland III, was just 5 in 2008, when he was asked a tough question: “If you could go anywhere, meet anyone, be anything or have anything you most wanted, what would it be?” The options were daunting to consider for CJ.
He pondered the question for two years before deciding with his mother, whom he lives with on Ludlam Avenue in Elmont, that he wanted a Disney cruise.
Now 10, CJ is like many of his classmates at Alden Terrace Elementary in the Elmont School District. He enjoys singing, dancing and playing fast-math. But he suffers from sickle-beta thalassemia, a blood disorder that affects the hemoglobin in red-blood cells. It is a type of autism that can result in dehydration, fatigue, stroke, extreme pain or death. The disease is most prominent among African-American, Caribbean and West Indian families.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York asked CJ what he wished for after his mother was referred to the organization by Andrea Goldson, CJ’s social worker at Cohen Children Medical Center at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Goldson made the referral — after surgery and many hospital visits by CJ — without telling the family, and it came as surprise to Williams when the foundation contacted her.
Make-A-Wish volunteers came to her home in 2010 and met with CJ. Williams told them that he loved playing in the water and was a fan of Mickey Mouse. A few weeks, she was told that CJ’s wish had been granted. The cruise was set for August 2011.
“[It] made me realize even more that there are good people in the world,” Williams said. “It’s not about politics, money or status. It’s about life and enjoying every moment, because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. I almost lost my son twice. I don’t take any day for granted.”
CJ’s wish was one of 26 granted in the last four years to residents of Elmont and Franklin Square, which Kamlita Reddy, manager of media relations at Make-A-Wish, described as a “huge amount.” Money and resources for wishes come from donations, and wishes that require air travel are often covered by contributions of frequent-flyer miles.