WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - How great would it be to grant wishes for sick children?
Of course, that's what Make A Wish Foundation does. The people who decide to grant the wishes are not Genies, but volunteers called Wish-Grantors.
But a new Wish-Grantor in Northern Virginia has an unusual background that has now put him on both sides of the wish.
Ray Ballard is small for his 22 years. And frail. His arms are extremely thin and his legs are swollen with excess fluid. Ballard was born with a life threatening primary immune deficiency, known as the "bubble boy" illness.
Ray can't count the number of hospitalizations he's had, but he guesses he's spent half his life in various medical facilities.
He's had three bone marrow transplants and a GI tract operation that left him carrying a feeding bag on his back.
He is also hearing-impaired from powerful antibiotics that saved his life as a baby.
It's a lot of deal with for a young person.
"I hate thinking about what could happen to me," said Ballard.
He was able to take his mind off his troubles when the Make A Wish Foundation sent him and his parents to Hawaii in 2014.
"It was ten days packed with fun," said Barb Ballard, his mother. "He really, really thrived on it. It was great," she said.
Ray called it the best trip of his life.
Then he got an idea. He wanted to be a Wish Grantor himself.
Ray said people thought it was a crazy idea at first. "Basically," he said. But he was persistent and wound up being paired with Doug Crowe, the man who granted his wish.
"I was floored when he called me and said that he wanted to be a Wish-Grantor now," said Crowe.
Ray had to go through training and now spends hours reading emails for potential recipients. He then meets the families and writes up a plan. There's also a follow-up report he files.
"I wanted to pay it forward. To other kids who would have the opportunity like me to experience the time of their life," said Ray.
"His words to me were 'To inspire other kids who are sick.' I just thought, what an amazing person. If there were more people like that in the world, it'd be a better place," said Crowe.
Ray Ballard has already granted two wishes in the past year. Both kids wanted to go to Disney World, the number one requested destination.
But recently, Ray had to put his wish-granting on hold because of a recent hospital stay at NIH. But he's hoping to get back granting wishes again soon.