Make-A-Wish and Johnson Brunetti Retirement and Investment Specialists teamed up to provide some special gifts for a West Hartford 6-year-old.
By Ronni Newton
Lucas DiCesare asked Eric Hogarth to push him higher, and still higher, on the swing of his new backyard playscape Thursday afternoon in West Hartford.
Lucas, 6, a first-grader at Braeburn Elementary School, was home Thursday morning and playing with Hogarth, a partner with Johnson Brunetti Retirement and Investment Specialists, for a special occasion.
Hogarth, and representatives from Make-A-Wish Connecticut, were formally presenting him with a new backyard playscape as well as a “Polar Express” train set that would fit on his existing train tracks and a puzzle – so he could have fun when he has to play inside on rainy or snowy days.
After opening the other gifts, Lucas didn’t waste any time showing Hogarth and reporters his new playscape, surrounded by blue mulch. Blue is Lucas’ favorite color, and after the playscape was installed his dad painted the tree house blue in time for the presentation.
Lucas and his parents, Monica and Paul DiCesare, moved to West Hartford from Brooklyn, NY, in the summer of 2020. They had started the process of coordinating a wish for Lucas when they were still in New York, on the advice of their pediatrician, but at that time they were considering a trip. Then COVID hit and they moved.
Hogarth said he has three young children as well, including a 6-year-old daughter.
“We’ve as a company been involved with Make-A-Wish for a long time,” Hogarth said. “It’s an honor to be able to do it. … I can’t think of a better thing to be able to do,” he said.
It was a big adjustment to move during COVID. “Having something like a playscape, allowing him to get outside more, it was an important thing for us to have on the property,” Paul DiCesare said.
“One of his favorite things to do when we lived in Brooklyn was go to the playground,” Monica DiCesare said. While they have more space here, having his own playscape gives him a chance to play with other neighborhood kids in his own yard. “He’s a very social kid,” she added.
Monica DiCesare said Lucas has been through a lot, emotion clearly evident in her voice as she recalled that he spent a good part of his first year in the hospital, and they didn’t know if he would walk. “Fortunately he can, and he loves doing active things and playing.”
Lucas’ extended his friendly and outgoing manner to Hogarth and the news media on hand at the presentation, and he was very determined to have Hogarth come inside the house to help set up the train set and meet his cat – noting that he could come inside because he was wearing a mask.
“Thank you for making my wish come true,” Lucas said, as he presented a plaque to Hogarth and gave him a high-five.
“Kids are the best, kids love life. They are just excited to have fun and play,” Hogarth said.
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