Teen with blood disorder granted wish to Zoo Miami

first_imgSOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) – A teen with a blood disorder was granted a wish to see exciting animals at Zoo Miami.Thirteen-year-old Matthew Valiante has always dreamed of seeing some big and wild animals, and with a little help from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, his dream came true.Valiante was able to get up close and personal with cheetahs, tortoises and even a rhino, Friday.“He doesn’t take anything for granted so this is like, you know, he says, ‘Why do I get this?’” said mother Deena Valiante. “Well, for everything you go through. For him to be the center of attention is hard, but it’s good for him.”The animal-loving teen was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond syndrome, which is a blood disorder that affects his bone marrow, when he was 2 years old.It is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life, so the Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up with Zoo Miami to grant him this life-changing wish.“They could have wished for anything in the world, to meet someone, to go somewhere, to have something, to do something, and they picked this,” said Stu Opperman with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. “This is their one true wish, and we’re so happy to be able to fulfill that and make a special occasion for a boy who has always dreamed about meeting big cats, and today he did.” Matthew even got a special snapshot next to a cheetah.“It was remarkable. I mean, just wishing I could be right next to him experiencing the petting of that, I mean, seeing the cat and being next to it would have been just through the charts,” said father Jeff Valiante.Matthew and his family also got to feed and pet a giant tortoise and a rhino.It was a wild experience that the Valiante family will remember for the rest of their lives.“You bring a kid out here, and you look at his look when he looks at a giraffe, a tongue coming out, how he looks when he’s standing next to a cheetah, and you see that smile,” said Ron Magill with Zoo Miami. “If only for a few moments he forgets about everything else that he’s been dealing with, that’s priceless.”Matthew and his family also got the chance to feed the giraffes during their adventure-filled day at the zoo.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.last_img