Six years ago, one mom took the devastating loss of her son, Matthew, 13, and made his wish come true.

On Jan. 16, 2011, Matthew McKinnon died due to a blood clot in his lungs. He had spent a lot of his time in the hospital. Matthew knew what it was like to be in the hospital during the holidays. So for such a little kid, he had such a big dream.

Matthew wanted to fill an 18-wheeler with toys and donate them to the hospital. He wanted to surprise all the sick children. His mom, AnneMarie Allen-Guli, decided to create Matthew’s Wish. AnneMarie and her amazing family spent their time setting up this wonderful annual event. I am lucky and honored to be a part of this every year. My mom and AnneMarie have been friends since they were kids.

This past year, on Dec. 10, Matthew’s Wish kicked off with an outstanding parade in Brentwood of six fire departments and two ambulance companies. Santa, Buddy the Elf, and even the Grinch participated in this fantastic dream come true. All these people come together once a year to give back and celebrate the spirit of Christmas. “Matthew was known as ‘Mr. Christmas’ to his family,” said his uncle Robby Allen aka Buddy the Elf.

Toy bins are set out and filled up with hundreds of toys that are donated by loved ones and generous strangers. All the toys are sorted and donated to Cohen Children’s Medical Center and Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “Once we hit the goal of filling up an 18-wheeler with toys, we are not going to stop doing Matthew’s wish,” AnneMarie said.

Matthew McKinnon, who died due to a blood clot in his lungs Photo Credit: AnneMarie Allen-Guli

Matthew’s Wish has been getting bigger and better every year. AnneMarie said that Matthew would probably say, “We did it!” Matthew would be so proud. One of the newest firefighters said, “It makes me feel proud and good to be a part of this wonderful event.”

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Matthew’s Wish is amazing and it’s very special to help make a boy’s wish come true. I met Matthew when I was little and it’s hard to remember him, but I think he would love it. I wish he could be there with us. Matthew’s Wish inspires me to carry on the tradition and give more donations than ever.

Will you please help me in donating gifts in late November and December for Matthew’s Wish? Hopefully more people will donate. Then we will be able to hit that goal of filling an 18-wheeler with toys, making Matthew’s Wish a real wish come true. Follow the Facebook page: Matthew’s Wish.

Kate MacDonald’s fifth-grade class, Jericho Elementary School, Centereach