Hoosick Falls brain tumor survivor helping 'Make-A-Wish' dreams come true for others

November 23, 2018 05:35 PM

An 11-year-old from Hoosick Falls is giving back.

Luke Hoag was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when he was just 16 months old. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he was able to go to Disney at just 3 years old. Now, he's raising money to do the same for others.

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"Make-A-Wish did a lot for me. I mean, it was really a mark on me and my family," explained Luke.

Now, at 11 years old, Luke is a "wish ambassador" and has made it his mission to give back.

"I just want to see other children who have those life-ending issues have a smile on their face," said Luke.

Four years ago, Luke saw an opportunity. The Macy's "Believe" campaign donates $1 to the "Make-A-Wish" foundation for every letter written to Santa that they collect – and $2 for every letter delivered on what they call "Believe Day," up to the $1 million mark.

If we can get to that million mark, I mean, that's a million dollars that we're going to get from the Macy's organization to help grant wishes for all the 60 chapters across the United States," noted Bill Trigg, the CEO of Make-A-Wish Northeast New York.

Not only did Luke start writing, he started spreading the word and collecting.

"The first two years, we basically just got letters in New York state. Then, last year, we got letters from 14 states," said Luke.

This year, they're trying to get letters from all 50 states.

In 2015, Luke delivered 14,595 letters to Macy's on "Believe Day." The next year, he delivered 44,000 letters. Last year, he delivered 66,000 letters. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"His school, his family, they actually set up a whole caravan to come down," pointed out Trigg.

This year, Luke will try to exceed that once again. He's getting help from the UAlbany football program, where he's been an honorary Captain since 2011.

At the last two home games, UA set up a table where people could write letters to Santa.

"It means a lot, because the UAlbany football team knew a lot of people on campus and off campus – and it just makes me feel happy that they're doing this just for me and all of the other kids," said Luke.

He will make this year's delivery on "Believe Day," December 7. Knowing him, he'll need an 18-wheeler to deliver that batch.

"We have a whole line of Macy's workers who work there – and it just makes me feel really happy and excited," said Luke. "It makes me feel like I really want to do a lot more next year and the year after that."

"He loves being able to do this – to be able to make wishes happen for other kids. I mean, he's got a heart of gold. He's just a great kid," said Trigg.


Ashley Miller

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