SCHENECTADY — Laura Brown was visibly emotional Saturday morning.
The Mt. Pleasant resident watched as about 20 vehicles — including fire trucks, police cars and a CDTA trolley — paraded past her home on Cutler Avenue at 11 a.m., all for her eight-year-old son, Jacob, who was honored by both the city and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York.
Initially, Lall, who has cerebral palsy, only wanted an iPad with accessories for his special wish. However, once word got around about his love for wheels and his subsequent admiration for “Wheels On the Bus,” the organization couldn’t resist going all-out for him. Along with the parade, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy presented the young man with his own city proclamation, promising that City Hall’s clocktower will be lit blue Saturday night in honor of Lall, as Aug. 22, 2020, will now be known as Jacob Lall Day in the city.
“We’re in the business of hope,” said William Trigg III, Make-A-Wish Northeastern New York’s chief executive officer. “And to be able to give that hope to Jacob and his family, we will persevere. We will not hold-up any wish. We’re not going to let the pandemic take our wishes hostage, that’s for sure.”
Arranging the parade wasn’t an easy task for the organization. Make-A-Wish NENY was on track to complete over 100 wishes by the end of August. However, when COVID-19 started impacting the U.S. and travel in late February, the organization had to put most wishes on hold until late July. And even with so many wishes on hold — mainly those that were travel-based — it was rewarding for Trigg to see Jacob’s face light up as he accepted his iPad and celebrated all the “wheels” cruising down his street.
“To be able to bring hope, strength and joy to Jacob and his family today — getting his iPad wish — it makes all the difference,” Trigg said.
Brown’s reaction to the joyous day was just as emotional as any mother’s would be. Trigg said the wishes aren’t just for the kids. They’re for the parents to celebrate, too.
“It’s exciting,” Brown said. “I’ve seen Make-A-Wish on TV. I never thought it would be me and my kid. But it was, and it was amazing. They went step-by-step with me and my baby to make sure everything goes right for him. I can’t be any more grateful than that.”
The parade was made possible through the organization’s local connections — such as the police and fire departments — as volunteer wish granters Deb Karius and Brenda Fitting attributed much of it to “good community.”
“Everyone was willing to check in and do whatever it takes so everyone could enjoy the day and Jacob could have his wish a little bit differently,” Karius said. “But we pulled it off.”