When Dan Quaglieri was asked to make a wish after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, he could have chosen to meet his favorite athlete, movie star or musician, but all he wanted was to cruise on a snowmobile or ride on an all-terrain vehicle.
Unfortunately, the Make-A-Wish Foundation cannot provide "motorized wishes," according to Dan's dad, Tom, of Guilderland. It is because of Dan's love of off-road vehicles, and Tom's desire to give back to the community, that Tom founded 4Wheeling 4Healing after his son was diagnosed with cancer in the seventh grade. Now, Dan is 18 years old, and giving ATV rides to other kids with cancer, heart-disease and other hospitalizing illnesses as part of the 4W4H program his dad set up.
Dan also acts as an active ear for those who take rides, listening to their stories and sharing experiences battling cancer.
"It made him become a lot more outgoing," he said.
Tom went on to praise the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which provided a trip for his family to Hawaii and spent thousands of dollars trying to give Dan happy memories.
"It really is a phenomenal organization," Tom said. "Don't get me wrong. But we said, 'You know what, we're going to fill in that void in the system there.'"
Tom said he was never able to gain a totally clear understanding of the legalities behind why Make-A-Wish does not provide "motorized wishes" but said he wanted to do something where he could grant that sort of present for a child who wants it.
He said his organization receives permission from the doctor, making sure the child is healthy enough to ride, and then Tom, or one of his six family members who participate take them to a trail nearby for a day of fun and excitement.
He said there are multiple benefits to providing the rides, especially for kids who are used to playing sports or who were otherwise active before getting sick.