SportsCenter

Host Chris Connelly previews SportsCenter’s “My Wish,” returning for its 10th season

For the 10th season, Chris Connelly will host the ESPN “My Wish” series on SportsCenter when it returns with five new wishes on Sunday, July 19.

[The audience has] gotten to see some of our best-known athletes and teams in a brand-new light: connecting one-to-one with the kids who idolize them.
– Chris Connelly on the
“My Wish” series

Front Row spoke with Connelly to get some of his memories from the first 10 seasons:

What do you feel has been the impact of the “My Wish” Series?
I think our audience has gotten to see the amazing strength and resilience of our “My Wish” children, and the love and resourcefulness of their families. They’ve also gotten to see some of our best-known athletes and teams in a brand-new light: connecting one-to-one with the kids who idolize them — getting to know these children better, acknowledging their efforts to deal with their illnesses and making sure they have a really fun time on their wishes.

Of the 50 wishes that have aired, can you pick one as the most memorable, and why?
Every child and wish is special, and different, and memorable. Katie Morris our first year … Akeem Havens, scoring a touchdown on the [Pittsburgh] Steelers from his wheelchair…the wise and unstoppable Kyle Byrd…Thiago D’Elia and LeBron [James] having fun…the great connection between Cole Johanson and [NBA star] Chris Paul…Anna Schmidt doing the Lambeau Leap . . . so many more.

I think her words sum up a lot of what is so great about our ‘My Wish’ children: ‘If I’m not crying, you shouldn’t be crying. If I’m smiling, smile with me.’
– Chris Connelly referring to Hailey Cannaday, a new “My Wish” subject

One of our children wrote about his wish as his personal essay for a school he was applying to – and got in.

This year, I’m thrilled that people are going to meet Hailey Cannaday, a 16-year-old with one of the most amazing spirits we’ve ever encountered on “My Wish.”

She’s a swimmer facing a protracted challenge with osteosarcoma, and her time with [Olympic swimming champion] Michael Phelps is pretty magical.

She understands exactly how remarkable he is, and Michael is very generous in giving her the sort of expert guidance that hopefully will serve Hailey well when she returns to her school’s swim team. I think her words sum up a lot of what is so great about our “My Wish” children: “If I’m not crying, you shouldn’t be crying. If I’m smiling, smile with me.”

Is there an athlete/team you haven’t worked with yet that you’d really like to?
As a big fan of European soccer, I’d love to see a wish with a player or team from the EPL or La Liga.

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