Make-A-Wish Foundation grants Hawaii vacation to cancer survivor | Local News

EL CENTRO — Managers from Jack in the Box restaurants located all over Imperial county were present and actively decorating the entire dining center of the Jack in the Box located across the street from Pizza Hut on Wednesday, July 27.

The atmosphere in the reserved dining room consisted of conversations between Make a Wish volunteers and Jack in the Box employees deciding where to place Hawaiian themed decorations from inflatables to placemats. A red carpet was unrolled and securely taped to the floor of the back entrance in preparation for the arrival of Derik Gonzalez, a sixteen-year-old cancer survivor diagnosed in December of 2019 who wished to visit Hawaii with his family.

The Desert Review had the opportunity to interview the Yuma and Calexico Jack in the Box District Manager Ana Rogers. “Every Jack in the Box restaurant in the area helped make this event possible from donations and proceeds from selling Make-A-Wish stars to customers around the county,” Ana said. “We are hungry to work with the Make-a-Wish foundation!”

Among Make-A-Wish volunteers present at the event were Maria Ines and Gina Encinas Andrade, both of whom also volunteered at a previous Make-A-Wish event in Calexico on July 14. Ines was passing out fake flower necklaces while wearing a blue hula skirt to add more Hawaiian flair to the room. “We are sponsoring the Make-a-Wish foundation. This is the first time we do this here,” Laura, the manager of the Jack in the Box the event was taking place at, said, “every year we do the fundraiser!”

According to Ines, the restaurant “donated the food, drinks, and decorations” and a Jack in the Box manager named Mario obtained the cake for the event for which she thanked him and everyone else involved with making Gonzalez’s wish possible via email. Additionally, Ines also stated Gonzalez has been eager and “ready to go” to Hawaii and the trip will take place from September 8 to 14. Prior to Gonzalez’s arrival, every manager present at the event posed with Hawaiian accessories while holding custom cardboard signs congratulating him and wishing him a good vacation with his family. All of the attention in the room was directed to the blue cake at the corner of the restaurant that was next to a giant surfboard with Gonzalez’s name.

The cake was baby blue and topped with sandals and a blue Make-A-Wish star surfing the frosting. Gonzalez made a grand entrance at the back entrance of the restaurant and was welcomed with applause and cheers from everyone in the dining room as soon as the glass door opened. Cameras of all kinds and sizes were flashing repeatedly as Gonzalez marched towards Ines who awaited him with open arms for one of the most heartwarming hugs ever witnessed by many present at the scene.

“You are going to Hawaii!” Ines exclaimed as Gonzalez smiled and proceeded across the red carpet to take pictures with family, Jack in the Box managers, and supporters alike.

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