A Make-A-Wish Child’s Heart of Gold

In today’s blog I’m sharing an inspiring video that I really want you to see. It’s one of my favorite success-story videos out of all of the ones I’ve produced over the years. That’s because it teaches us the most fundamental lesson of all: to appreciate LIFE.

This story has its roots at Christmas time, 1994. I was making a list of which gifts to buy family members. But I realized that we already had everything we needed. With the surprising success of a health-food called MET-Rx which my company introduced to the fitness market in 1991, I was able to give considerable gifts already to my mom and dad, siblings, and grandparents. What I realized is that buying any more ‘stuff’ for us all was just redundant.

Coincidentally, later that day, I was reading the Denver newspaper (back when things were actually printed with ink on paper) and what grabbed my attention was a small article about an 8-year old girl named Abby, who had just undergone a life-saving heart transplant at Children’s Hospital. To celebrate her second-chance at life, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was looking to make her dream of going to Hawaii and swimming with the dolphins come true — they just needed a sponsor. I instantly knew this would be the best Christmas present of all… for Abby and her family as well as ours.

On behalf of the Phillips family, I gave Make-A-Wish a donation that would pay for not just Abby but for her whole family to go to Hawaii and have some very well deserved, care free fun in the sun (and also to swim with the dolphins).

On Christmas Eve, I gave a picture of Abby to each of my family members and explained her situation and her wish. Then I explained that our family helped make her dream come true. It was very emotional and brought good feelings to us all — better feelings than we would have had from just exchanging material gifts.

In the 19 years since then, I’ve been able to make 570 more Make-A-Wish kid’s dreams come true. It is unquestionably the very best part of the good luck I had back in the 90’s with my health-food businesses, MET-Rx and EAS.

Abby and I kept in touch over the years and as you’ll see in this video, she became a gold-medal winning athlete in swimming and has honored her second chance at life by taking very good care of her body. Today, she is a graduate of Michigan State University, married, and starting a family of her own.

At the time I visited Abby and made this video she was 19 years old. Because of her commitment to eating right and exercise, her doctor reported that even though Abby’s heart is 45 years old, it’s as healthy and strong as if it were her own. The transplanted heart has literally been rejuvenated — it is no longer older than she is. This is a stunning example of how miraculously the body can heal when we take care of it properly.

Important Lesson! We each have the same potential to rejuvenate our own hearts, adding years to our lifespan, if we do what Abby does: eat healthy, stay active, be grateful, and enjoy life to the fullest!

I never knew back in 1994 that reading that small newspaper story about Abby would have such a profound and transformative impact on my life, but it certainly has. I’ve learned so much from Make-A-Wish kids and their families over the years about how to face adversity, even tragedy, with grace and faith. These heroic children and brave moms and dads have been important mentors and teachers in my own personal growth over the years. I am very lucky.

I hope you enjoy the video — listen carefully and you’ll hear the part about her heart being as healthy and young as she is. It’s incredible what can happen when we wake up and start taking care of our physical selves with exercise and good nutrition.

~Bill Phillips


  1. clinton morin says:

    very inspiring

  2. Sonya Daniels says:

    Great post Bill. Inspiring work you are doing.

    Sonya Daniels

  3. Nicholas P Pasqualichio says:

    Really enjoying the challange underwent a shoulder surgery in January gives me a reason to recover!

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