A boy's wildest dreams were obviously coming true when Pomona police started giving Christopher Wilson everything they could think of. And that may be only the beginning.
By the time they're through, Chris may have visited the Statue of Liberty and Disney World, and dozens of football-playing policemen will have had dreams of their own fulfilled.
The 6-year-old Chris, who was born with cystic fibrosis, has already had a ride in the Pomona police helicopter and on a police motorcycle that he got to operate himself.
His benefactors include the Pomona Police Officers Assn., officers of the state Department of Corrections and the Make A Wish Foundation, which makes dreams come true for youngsters under 18 who have life-threatening diseases.
Wanted Own Team
It all began when members of the police association, who often play on other football teams, decided to form their own squad.
"We'd go out and beat our brains out, and the recognition would go to the team we were playing for," said Pomona Detective Ray Birch. "We wanted some of the glory that we were helping others to get."
So did officers of the California Institute for Men in Chino, who had the same idea.
Together, they figured they could raise a lot of money if they held a charity football game and sold all the tickets themselves, rather than paying an agency to solicit ticket sales.
The athletic department at Chaffey College in Alta Loma is donating its football stadium, uniforms and personnel for the game, which will begin at 7 p.m. on April 14. Tickets will cost $3 for adults and $1 for children 5 to 17. Younger children will be admitted free.
When plans started falling into place, Birch said the police association asked the Make A Wish Foundation to choose a special child to help.
Deborah Wilson said her son had been recommended to the foundation by a teacher who tutors him in his La Verne home, through the Bonita Unified School District.
Chris easily qualified for consideration, said Betty Strong of Riverside, speaking for the Make A Wish Foundation. Proceeds from the football game will not go directly to Chris, Strong said, but into a general fund. The foundation spends an average of $2,000 for each wish it fulfills. She said many hotels provide free or reduced-cost rooms, and the foundation gives each member of the family $50 spending money each day of the trip.
"The effect on their lives is the excitement they get, the happiness," Strong said. "It's an upper you can't believe."
Dozens of Pomona officers competed for Chris's attention during a get-acquainted visit last week. They urged him to accept a special cake, badges, a helmet and a baton.
"You can't believe how much this is doing for us," Birch said. "The kind of thing we see every day out on the streets--we really need this.
"He's the perfect kid," said Birch as he watched Chris easily take over the entire police facility.
Chris is a blue-eyed, blond charmer with a disease that a spokesman at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Southern California called "the No. 1 genetic killer of children and young adults."
His big wish, say his parents, Deborah and Scott Wilson, is to see the Statue of Liberty. Disney World comes a close second.
All that will likely come true soon after the April 14 game, said Strong. She has begun making plans for the family, including 3-year-old Cory, to spend a week traveling to New York and Florida.
Chris, who is currently in good health, required surgery for an intestinal blockage six hours after he was born, his mother said.
Cystic fibrosis forms a thick mucus that clogs the lungs and digestive tract and makes its victims susceptible to pneumonia and other infections. Gary Green, executive for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, said most of the 35,000 victims in the United States have a life expectancy into their mid-20s. He said scientists may soon be able to identify the gene that causes the disease.
Deborah Wilson said Chris receives regular intravenous feedings and sleeps with a mask and a humidifier to ease his breathing. While he appears robust, he is not able to attend regular school classes.
Last week, after touring the police facility and posing for photographers like a professional model, Chris and his mother went to Brackett Field in La Verne, where the Pomona Police Department's helicopter is kept.
"I've been looking forward to this since I first heard about it," said pilot Dennis McCall.
A somewhat reluctant Chris was persuaded to mount a cycle. He immediately identified the button that operated the siren.
He lasted as long as the police officers did that afternoon, running, leaping, grinning and clutching his new possessions.
"He gave out and slept on the way home, but it was wonderful while it lasted," said his mother.