Make-A-Wish Note

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Dear Friends,

We are saddened to inform you that our guest from the Make-A-Wish Foundation has recently passed away.  

We only spent a few days with her and her family, but the time we spent with her was incredibly precious. Aside from the personal privilege we felt as fellow human beings, our experiences with her created fundamental changes in how we view our responsibilities, as well as how we approach disability accommodations at our events. We hope to further develop sensitivity and awareness of those who need special accommodations for what we have been taking for granted, and will consider the point of view of people with disabilities while we plan our events and services.

We very much appreciate how staff, volunteers, and artists at Anime Expo worked together to serve our special guest’s needs and wishes. Their actions left us with great appreciation of the collective good will and character of this community.

We would also like to thank Porno Graffiti and their management team for their time and willingness to meet with her and her family to take photos with them.

Thanks also to Debbie Perez of Mangia Ristorante, the food truck coordinator, who patiently spent time and donated food to her, her family, and her attendants.  

Dr. Lawrence Lein, her handler, lovingly took care of her with a rare combination of determined focus and gentleness.

Ray Chiang, our Director of Operations, went way out of his way to make sure that her experience was as comfortable as possible with the numerous actions he and his team took. Volunteer My Tran, the second handler Ray brought on to assist Dr. Lein, quietly and surely focused on providing the much needed care without getting in the way of family time.

We also want to acknowledge Erica Kim for her exemplary maturity, professionalism, and sensitivity she demonstrated in providing care to our guest and her family.

The staff at the Blue Exorcist movie screening responded to the girl’s request at the last moment, rushed to create space in the packed room, and escorted the group in after the movie was half-way through with as little disturbance to the audience as possible.

Ian Tingen, our Programming Division Head, and Nadeshiko Nakahara provided the backstage passes for Porno Graffiti in response to a last minute request. They knew they’d have to go through troubles with the guests they originally secured the passes for, but were determined to place the top priority on making the girl’s wish come true.

Inside AX staff took the time to interview the girl with kindness and positive attitude. The story they will be telling about her will help the anime fan community to get to know her more. We are sure that many more will be touched like we are, and help celebrate the life she lived.

There were many other volunteers, staff, and fans who stopped briefly to interact with her and made pleasant comments about her maid costume.  They may not even remember having done so, but their acts still warm our hearts and are very much appreciated.

We likely are missing mentions countless others who helped make her stay fun and comfortable, but the omission is not due to the lack of our appreciation.  

Most of all, we thank the entire Anime Expo team for agreeing to host her and her family, providing all they could, and setting up the right environment for all these to happen.  You have created a very special community.

Thank you all again, for allowing us to serve you.

Member of the Board of Directors