Sanctuary Art & Music Studio Sets the Stage for a Child’s Make-A-Wish Dream

A local boy and his family learned that they would go to Disneyland in an artistic and musical way.

Make-A-Wish San Diego recently revealed that Mateo’s wish would be granted at a party at Sanctuary Art and Music Studio in Sorrento Valley. It was the “perfect” place, according to his father, because the 4-year-old loves to draw and dance.

“The party was perfect for him. It involved all of those things,” said Lionso Contreras, Mateo’s father. “It was really nice. Everyone had a great time. »

Although born with Down syndrome, Mateo was a happy and healthy boy until last spring. He was diagnosed with leukemia in March, a month before he turned 4.

The family practically lived at Rady Children’s Hospital for the first few months after her diagnosis. Mateo underwent several cycles of chemotherapy and several blood transfusions.

“It was very scary,” said Contreras, whose family lives in Oceanside. “I couldn’t control my emotions. I didn’t know what to think, what to say. It was the scariest thing I have ever experienced knowing that my child had a life threatening illness.

While Mateo was in the hospital, the Contreras family heard about the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation from a social worker. With some encouragement, they contacted Make-A-Wish San Diego to find out more about the local organization.

That’s when Contreras and his wife, Socorro Cruz, had the opportunity to talk about Mateo with wish granters and describe their boy and what makes him happy.

“Mateo is happy,” Contreras said. “He always plays with his siblings. He is a very affectionate child.

Nine months after his diagnosis, Mateo is still undergoing chemotherapy. But his family remains hopeful. Doctors say he is responding well to his treatment, Contreras said.

“He’s not out of the woods yet, but he’s fine,” Contreras said. “We hope he continues to improve.”

At a reveal party in late November at the Sanctuary Art and Music Studio, the Contreras family learned that Mateo’s wish would be granted and the family of five would get a trip to Disneyland. Mateo, his parents and two siblings will visit “The Happiest Place on Earth” from December 19-24.

The love and support Mateo and his family have received from Make-A-Wish San Diego has meant more than words can describe, Contreras said.

“It’s way more than I expected anyone to do for him – outside of our family,” Contreras said. “Going to Disneyland is a great way to make memories with him and our other two kids. It’s something, especially right now, that I can’t do for him and my whole family.

Make-A-Wish has been fulfilling the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses since 1980. The San Diego chapter was founded three years later to serve children and families in San Diego and Imperial counties. There are 62 chapters across the country.

Make-A-Wish San Diego grants about 200 wishes a year for kids like Mateo. This year, the local organization is on track to grant 215 wishes.

“I believe we’re going to reach that, maybe even exceed that,” said Chris Sichel, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish San Diego. “There are a lot of kids in the wish process right now, more than we’ve ever had.”

On average, it takes about $8,500 to make each wish come true.

“A wish allows a child to dream a little,” Sichel said, adding that around 75% of wishes include travel. “Children want to get away from what they are going through. They want to be with their family.

Contreras added, “It’s very touching that an organization like Make-A-Wish is doing this for us. It’s very moving that people devote so much time to helping us make a wish come true.

More than 300 San Diego-area children are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses each year, Sichel said. There are currently 274 children in the “wish process”.

“2016 will be our biggest wish-granting year,” Sichel said. “We’re going to need more support from the community than we’ve ever had. The holidays are a wonderful time to give.

To learn more about Make-A-Wish San Diego or to donate to the organization, visit