HARTFORD, Conn. — 16-year-old Madison Bromberg of West Hartford wants to be a pilot in the future. Wednesday, she got her first lesson on what it's like to take to the sky thanks to Make-A-Wish Connecticut.
The high school junior was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma two years ago and has been cancer-free since June 2021. Her dream has been to learn how to fly. At Brainard Airport in Hartford, she was able to test out a flight simulator and sit in the cockpit of a personal plane.
"I just sort of felt and shared in her happiness and excitement," her mom Christine said. "This is a culmination of, obviously, a long journey of hers that we’ve been sort of along for the ride."
Christine said Madison handled cancer with grit and grace. She had six months of treatment at Connecticut Children's. During the pandemic, the opportunities for wishes were limited. Christine wanted her daughter to think creatively about what she wanted to do.
"We encouraged her to kind of think outside the box," she said. "She’s always sort of been a risk-taker. I think she saw this as an opportunity to do something she might not otherwise have an opportunity to do."
Her opportunity came thanks to Make-A-Wish and Johnson Brunetti Retirement and Investment Specialists in Wethersfield.
"This is our ninth year of partnering with Make-A-Wish. It’s just a really positive and exciting day to see Madison be able to realize her dream of taking flying lessons," Managing Partner Joel Johnson said. "I like cars. I like planes. I like things that are fast and so I just thought this is great."
Madison said her favorite part was sitting in the plane itself. Kim Smith with Make-A-Wish said it was a celebration of Madison and her journey.
"You can see the strength and resilience in her that when she saw the planes for the first time, her eyes lit up," she said. "Our wish kids, they go through so much throughout the entire journey, and the wish is something that kind of anchors them and gives them hope."
Phillip Smith was her instructor for the two hours. The Learn 2 Fly CT owner said it's hard to describe seeing someone's dreams come true, especially after recovering from an illness.
"It gives me, personally, chills. You can see the hope and dream and desire in their eyes when they first see that airplane," he said.
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