QUEENSBURY — Wyatt Thomas pulled up to the Cricket Wireless store in the Northway Plaza in a stretch limousine on Saturday, where he was greeted by a group of eager employees, who literally rolled out a red carpet for him.
The group was full of nervous excitement as Wyatt, 16, exited the vehicle holding his favorite Build-A-Bear stuffed animal, his face obscured by a blue mask and gray beanie. His mother, Charlotte Thomas, was close behind with Wyatt’s walker, which was full of four more stuffed critters.
“Are you ready for your big day?” one employee asked, an obvious smile hidden beneath his own face covering.
The employee was right: It was a big day for Wyatt, a Lake Luzerne resident, who was joined by his mother and older brother, Paul.
Cricket Wireless was the first of a dozen stops the family would be making as part of an all-expenses paid shopping spree courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Wyatt, a Lake Luzerne resident, is battling leukemia, which has caused him to miss out on playing tennis with friends and going to school, and is responsible for causing a number of panic attacks and depression, according to Charlotte Thomas.
She added that COVID-19 has only made a difficult situation even harder.
“This shopping spree has lifted up his spirits, and it makes him feel so good to get out today to see old friends that he hasn’t seen in a while, and just to be out and enjoying himself with his family. He really misses going out and just having fun,” she said.
Wyatt didn’t speak. He was too busy downloading apps and playing with his new Samsung Galaxy S20 phone, which was gifted by Cricket Wireless.
The company also provided him with all the necessary gadgets, which, among other things, included a year of free service, several sets of Bluetooth headphones, a case and a few stuffed animals to add to his collection.
The limo would later take Wyatt and his family to all his favorite stores throughout the Capital Region, including stops in Latham, Albany and Crossgates Mall in Guilderland, where a trip to the Lego Store and Build-A-Bear Workshop were lined up.
Dinner at Olive Garden would cap off the busy day.
“Due to COVID, we’re restricted on what wishes we can grant in terms of travel wishes, but when it comes to shopping spree wishes, we can do anything,” said Mark McGuire, a spokesman for Make-A-Wish Northeast New York.
McGuire said the experience will be something that Wyatt carries with him for the rest of his life.
“What’s great about a wish is that it’s not just one day, it’s not just one moment. It’s not just the stuff he gets here today,” he said. “It’s the hope it brings a child and their family. It’s the confidence it brings their child and their family.”
Wyatt, meanwhile, appeared transfixed by his new phone, downloading apps and playing games while his mother fired off a series of questions to a salesperson.