TWIN FALLS â€” An announcement came over the intercom Wednesday at Robert Stuart Middle School: All sixth-grade students and teachers need to attend â€śa super-secret assembly.â€ť
Lorenzo Garcia, 11, and his classmates filed into the cafeteria. Music was blasting as children talked loudly, trying to figure out what was going on. Colorful balloons â€” including a couple in the shape of sharks â€” and inflatable beach balls were displayed on the auditorium stage.
As students handed out green and white plastic leis, Lorenzoâ€™s family was on stage concealed behind a closed curtain holding a poster and decorated cardboard cutouts of tropical fish.
â€śWe have some really special guests here today to give something special to one of you,â€ť Robert Stuart Principal Amy McBride told students.
Tracey Parsons, a wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, told students the national nonprofit organization grants wishes for children who are diagnosed with a critical illness.
She told the crowd she met with one of their classmates a couple of months ago about his wish. â€śI think he knows who Iâ€™m talking about. Lorenzo, come here.â€ť
Children cheered as Lorenzo â€” who had a brain tumor and underwent brain surgeries and chemotherapy â€” came up on stage, his face lit up with a huge smile. Parsons asked him a few questions about his wish: going deep-sea fishing in Hawaii.
The stage curtain opened, revealing Lorenzoâ€™s family. Lorenzoâ€™s mother, Kari Garcia, held up a poster that read: â€śLorenzo is going to Hawaii. 41 days left.â€ť
â€śHow many of you remember when Lorenzo was sick?â€ť Parsons asked students. Many raised their hand.
Lorenzo went through something no child should have to, including lots of doctorâ€™s appointments, Parsons said, but now is healthy and can go to Hawaii.
After the presentation, Garcia told theÂ Times-NewsÂ she was in shock when she found out more than a month ago her sonâ€™s wish would be granted. Her thought: â€śIs this for real?â€ť Then, she received an email confirming it.
Garcia suggested an assembly at Lorenzoâ€™s school to deliver the news. She kept the secret from Lorenzo and his two younger siblings, who Garcia worried would ruin the surprise.
Lorenzo, his parents and siblings will make the trip to Hawaii â€” and since theyâ€™re farmers, it will be after the busy farming season ends. They wonâ€™t know exactly where theyâ€™re going in Hawaii until 10 days before they leave and a package shows up at their house with details.
It was a long journey to get to this point.
Lorenzo was a sickly child, Garcia said, and she took him to many physicians in Twin Falls. She was often told her son had a cold or the flu.
Garcia asked for Lorenzo to be referred to a specialist in Boise about his stomach issues. He was biopsied and scoped, she said, and test results were normal.
Since Lorenzo was having sleeping issues, he was referred to a sleep specialist and they found out he has two forms of sleep apnea. He was skipping breaths at night. â€śHe was constantly waking himself up,â€ť Garcia said.
An MRI of Lorenzoâ€™s brain was ordered. While the 7-year-old was in the midst of the test in Boise, imaging employees pulled Garcia into an office and a doctor was on the phone.
Garcia said the doctor told her â€śas coldly as he couldâ€ť that Lorenzo had a brain tumor and she needed to take him to the emergency room right away.
Two days later in November 2014, Lorenzo underwent brain surgery at St. Lukeâ€™s in Boise. He spent a few weeks in intensive care.
Two weeks after arriving home, Lorenzo started having headaches. Another MRI showed he had hydrocephalus â€” an abnormal buildup of fluid in his brain. He had to undergo another surgery, and also had a port put in and a feeding tube.
Lorenzo went through chemotherapy for a year. Now, he has an MRI every three months, regular blood tests and receives growth hormone shots.
â€śIâ€™m just glad heâ€™s healthy now,â€ť Garcia said.
Despite his medical struggles, Lorenzo still excels in school. He was in the gifted and talented program in fourth and fifth grades and is in accelerated math this year.
And now, he has something else to look forward to â€” going fishing in Haw