Editor’s note: The My Wish series kicks off Sunday on the 10 a.m. SportsCenter. In that segment, pro soccer star Landon Donovan meets Brendan Galanaugh, a 7-year-old Colorado boy with acute myelocytic leukemia; Monday’s 6 p.m. SC segment will feature the Minnesota Twins greeting Michael Acosta, an 18-year-old Texan battling testicular cancer; the Tim Tebow segment described below airs Tuesday on the 6 p.m. SC; the Wednesday 6 p.m. SC segment features 8-year-old New Yorker Kendall Curnuck meeting surfer Bethany Hamilton.
ESPN Feature Producer Kris Schwartz has spent the past week editing the SportsCenter My Wish feature he shot with Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and an Illinois teenager in June.
In this segment, Tebow meets Adam Hubbs, who suffers from a rare immunodeficiency disorder known as MonoMac.
According to the National Cancer Institute’s web site, MonoMac is a type of disease that can transform into leukemia.
Once an elusive youth football player, 16-year-old Adam has not been able to dodge a series of maladies.
In the past three years, the Millstadt, Ill. native has needed CPR to revive him, has had his large intestine removed, and suffered a stroke, Schwartz said.
Still, the Florida Gators and Tebow fan has been remarkably resilient.
This particular My Wish segment, which premieres Tuesday on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter, documents what happens when Adam meets his idol, former Gators star Tebow, in Orlando, Fla.
“He’s just a great soul,” said Schwartz, a 13-year ESPN veteran and Florida graduate, of Tebow.
“He’s someone who really cares genuinely about others.”
ESPN and Make-A-Wish work together to determine which stories matching kids with serious medical conditions and athletes to pursue. The resulting SportsCenter My Wish segments document the children’s sports-themed days.
Segment host Chris Connelly “felt strongly that we should have somebody that Tim Tebow could boost his or her spirits,” Schwartz said.
In June, segment producers discovered Adam, who was at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md. recovering from a January 2011 stroke that decimated his left side.
Physical therapy has helped Adam recover some movement, although he sometimes has to use a wheelchair or cane.
Adam mustered the strength to make the trip to travel to Disney Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando.
They played a game of catch, but Adam’s father Mark served as his son’s stand-in for longer patterns.
“If his dad dropped a pass, he had to do pushups,” Schwartz said. “And Tebow threw them on target, too.”
About two years ago, Schwartz was working on another feature involving Tebow.
“We got some super slow motion shots of him throwing passes, but you wouldn’t see who he was throwing to,” Schwartz recalled.
“Well, that somebody was me. I dropped one over the middle, and he started ragging on me. So I knew he would have fun with [Adam’s] dad.”
Schwartz works as a producer in ESPN’s Cross Platform Newsgathering Unit. This is his second My Wish feature.
He previously had worked on similar project with action sports star Travis Pastrana.
“They are obviously very emotional pieces,” Schwartz said. “You get attached to the kids and to their families. You’re just thankful that they allow you into their lives.”
Schwartz’ investment in the project is typical of the My Wish producers, according to Coordinating Producer Valerie Gordon.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work our producers do on the My Wish series each year,” she said.
“Their task is doubly hard because before they can produce the feature viewers will see on-air and online, they must first produce the wish itself.
“They plan all of the elements for the wish from the reveal to the events of the wish day to securing gifts the wish recipient will take home.
“Often, they have the sports figure granting the wish pre-tape a message that serves as the ‘reveal’.”
For more information on the My Wish project, click here.