Many high school seniors these days are home playing video games after school or playing baseball, football, cheerleading or any number of other things that normal, healthy kids like to do these days. When these same kids can combine extracurricular activities and still maintain high grades and behavior you might call them “exceptional.”
What do you call a 17-year old, extremely unhealthy child that is all this and much more? Virgin Valley High School students, drama teacher Kelly Zarndt, many of his other teachers, his parents and the Make a Wish Foundation call him Langston Navarro.
Navarro is in end-stage kidney failure and endures 10-12 hours of dialysis each day just to stay alive. He has been on and off transplant lists for years and almost received a kidney twice but neither worked out. Still Navarro remains a positive and active son, student, friend and thespian. His biggest wish, other than a kidney, is to become a math teacher and he wanted to study towards that goal at Dixie State University.
The Make a Wish Foundation and Mesquite Gaming on Monday, May 9 made that wish come true. They made sure that his first year at Dixie State University was achievable and surprised him, his parents and his classmates with the presentation of $13,500 in tuition money.
The surprise was set up by the wish granters and his drama teacher Kelly Zardnt with pleasure.
Tom Navarro, Langston’s dad had been trying for some time to appeal to Dixie State for a break in the tuition cost because of the astronomical medical bills involved with his son’s continued care. He wasn’t asking for free tuition, just “In State” vs. ‘Out of State” tuition but Dixie State wasn’t budging one bit. The Make a Wish Foundation of Utah also tried to no avail.
Two years went by and the young Navarro turned 17 and began his senior year in high school. The Utah Make a Wish “Wish Granter” quit the organization and the ball focused on Navarro’s wish was dropped. Time was running out. Young Navarro would no longer be eligible for his “Make a Wish” once he turned 18 and he’ll do that in just two months. Dad was panicking and now had to rethink his son’s college dream. Navarro is also set to graduate in June and college is just months away; there seemed to be little hope.
Las Vegas Chapter of the Make a Wish Foundation and wish granters Gretchen Grierson and Nancy Gregory took over Navarro’s wish one year ago and together they contacted Michael Gaughan, co-owner of Mesquite Gaming who is a very generous patron to causes in Las Vegas. He pointed them to Mesquite Gaming’s CEO Anthony Toti who jumped on board right away to help the young man get his wish.
“We at Mesquite Gaming pride ourselves on being an active community partner, providing support to organizations and individuals in the Mesquite community,” said Chris Lazzara, vice president of marketing and advertising for Mesquite Gaming. “When the opportunity crossed our desks to assist this deserving young man in his wish to attend college, we knew we had to step in and help.”
Zarndt was also contacted by Make a Wish and helped set up the surprise they had worked so hard to get together in time. Wish granter Gregory knew firsthand how important wishes are to children who face life and death every day as her own daughter is a cancer survivor and was the recipient of a granted wish years ago.
Together Zarndt, Gregory and Grierson contacted people, classmates, parents and press and still managed to keep everything a complete surprise to Langston and his parents. So much so that neither mom nor dad thought that the “presentation by the drama class” was a big deal and they almost didn’t come. They certainly weren’t planning on it said mom, Melissa Navarro.
“But I’m very thankful that I got a call saying that Langston was receiving a special award from the department and I should probably be there. I would have been so angry with myself if I had missed this,” Melissa said.
When the three ladies who set this up discovered that neither parent was coming they quickly worked to remedy that and both parents showed up just in the nick of time when the presentation was about to begin. Mom said, “When the slide came on the screen saying that one special student was being granted his wish, I thought, NO WAY! Thank God! and I started to cry.”
Navarro and his parents were all completely surprised, overjoyed and still a little in shock. Navarro’s dad was overwhelmingly relieved and both parents and child are extremely appreciative to the Make a Wish Foundation and to Mesquite Gaming for making his very practical wish come true.
Langston is also full of thanks and love for his teacher, Ms. Zarndt, who Navarro said is like a second mother to him, for helping to set all of this up and giving him a surprise he’ll never forget.
If you would like to help make Langston’s wishes come true, the Make a Wish Foundation has started a Go Fund Me page. https://www.gofundme.com/LangstonsDream