METUCHEN – Eleven-year-old Victor Flores wore his orange “I am a Warrior” T-shirt proudly as he headed to Jersey Mike’s Subs for an early lunch with his family and best friend.
Little did he know on the morning of March 30 that his wish was about to come true of a shopping spree of new electronics – especially the coveted, difficult-to-get Xbox Series X.
He also received all sorts of accessories, games, a new iPhone, a case and some brand new sneakers – a pair of Yeezys and Nike Air Jordans – to round out the life-changing morning.
Cheering friends from Make-A-Wish New Jersey and Jersey Mike’s were there to greet the Edison youngster with signs – “Happy Wish Day,” “It’s Your Wish Day, Victor,” and “Wish Granted” – and his family – father Victor, mother Carolina, sister Velinda and best friend Rhys Brenton.
The family, who kept Victor’s Make-A-Wish secret for a few days, wore matching orange “Warrior” T-shirts.
“I had no idea this was going to happen today,” Victor quietly said after excitedly opening his gifts. “I’m really excited. I’m glad that I’m done with all my treatment, fought cancer and beat it.”
On March 16, Victor rang the bell after his last chemotherapy treatment at Hackensack Meridian Children’s Hospital in Hackensack. In September 2020, Victor was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue.
“I just have to go for scans every three months and make sure everything is gone and bloodwork, that’s really it,” he said.
Victor said after his last treatment, which included chemotherapy and radiation, he was really happy. He explained it was hard for him to fight the cancer, which made him really tired and hard for him to keep up with school.
Carolina Flores said for about a year her son was complaining about pain in his left arm. Not thinking anything serious, she said they gave him Tylenol for the pain. However, after six months, she felt a bump on his arm and it was hot to the touch. She knew something was not right and took him to the pediatrician.
After an MRI scan and a biopsy, the family learned a tumor on her son’s left arm was 100% cancer. She said the family couldn’t believe the diagnosis; however, with support from family, friends, everyone from the hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Jersey Mike’s, it gave them strength to take it day by day.
“It’s been a hard six to seven months battling this disease, harder for him than us,” said Victor’s father, who said Make-A-Wish kept in touch with the family, asking about Victor and how he was doing. “It has made it easier for us. All I can say is ‘Thanks’ to everybody, we are beyond grateful.”
Velinda added her brother took his cancer diagnosis well and is the strongest person she knows.
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Victor said he is learning remotely as a fifth grader. He said once he is done with physical therapy, he plans to go back to in-person school and looks forward to seeing his friends again. He said he has been keeping in touch with friends through playing video games and they have made him feel happy whenever he was feeling down during his treatments.
Chris Rigassio, franchise owner of Jersey Mike’s in Metuchen and Edison, told the family they are blessed to be part of Victor’s Make-A-Wish.
The surprise for Victor was granted thanks to the support of Jersey Mike’s Subs and their Month of Giving.
This is the fifth year of the sub shop’s partnership with Make-A-Wish New Jersey. Since their partnership began in 2017, Jersey Mike’s Subs has raised over $1.1 million for Make-A-Wish New Jersey, helping to grant over 150 wishes to children with critical illnesses in local communities throughout the state.
The campaign culminates with Jersey Mike’s Day of Giving on March 31, when the Jersey Mike’s locations gives 100% of the day’s sales – not just profit – to their partner charities. Whether customers order a sub, a catered meal or even a bag of chips, Jersey Mike’s donates every single dollar from sales via the Jersey Mike’s app, online or in store to Make-A-Wish New Jersey.
Jersey Mike’s has raised more than $32 million for local charities since Month of Giving began in 2011. This year, local Jersey Mike’s owners and operators throughout the country are supporting more than 200 different charities.
Make-A-Wish New Jersey has granted more than 11,000 wishes since its inception in 1983. The generous support of corporations like Jersey Mike’s Subs is critical to the organization’s continued success.
For more information about Make-A-Wish New Jersey, visit nj.wish.org