(UPDATED) Terminally Ill Peoria Child's Wish to Meet Paul McCartney Almost Granted

Categories: Local Wire

hayden-beatles-2.jpg
Hayden Blair: Great pajamas, great taste in music

UPDATE (August 13, 9 a.m.): The Blairs report having a wonderful time at the concert and wanted to thank Paul McCartney for his generosity. They watched soundcheck and went backstage, and McCartney's representatives gave Hayden a series of gifts, including one of Sir Paul's guitar pics and a drumstick signed by McCartney band member Abe Laboriel Jr. Hayden had a wonderful time, according to his mother.

"It was really amazing to see him so happy," Gina Blair says.

The seats the Blairs bought themselves ended up being better than the seats McCartney's people offered, but they were grateful for the offer regardless. From what Gina learned at the concert, there might have been some crossed wires during the entire process leading up to the show. She makes clear that she doesn't hold any ill will against McCartney.

See also: Paul McCartney - US Airways Center - 8/12/2014

"It sounds like there might have been some miscommunications on various levels, and I don't think it was Paul's fault at all," Gina says. "They were absolutely amazing to us."

Original story:Life isn't easy for 8-year-old Hayden Blair.

Hayden has what's called a "disorder of mitochondrial metabolism," the umbrella term for several disorders in which a person's mitochondria, the so-called "power plants" of cellular life, do not function properly. During the past two years, Hayden constantly has been in and out of the hospital, says his mom, Gina Blair. Things got so bad for Hayden that his parents contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who assigned volunteer "wish granter" Erika Erkel to the case.

"It's like your own DNA eating itself," Erkel says of the mitochondrial disorder.

There is no cure.

Looking at YouTube videos of Hayden, you see a seemingly healthy child. But that exuberance doesn't tell the whole story, his mom says.

"This disease is very deceiving," Gina says. "I often hear that. 'Oh, he looks so great' . . . But people don't understand what he goes through every day to look that great. He has an IV every day, he has a tube in this stomach he has to use to eat . . . He has a ventilator [that he helps him breath while sleeping] . . . I have a huge walk-in pantry full of medicine and equipment."

On top of his terminal illness, doctors diagnosed Hayden with autism when he was just 27 months old.

His autism created a whole set of challenges on top of the health ones for Gina Blair and her husband, who live in Glendale. But it wasn't without its uplifting moments. He developed an affinity for a certain musical group, a member of which is playing US Airways Center tonight.

"His autistic savant quality is music, specifically the Beatles," Gina says, recalling how as a toddler, the only time Hayden would sing would be when he sang along to a Fab Four tune. "He knows the words to every single Beatles song. He can play most of them on guitar."

When the Make-A-Wish Foundation asked, Hayden had one request: to play a song with the two remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Obviously, that wouldn't be possible. But the organization might be able to arrange a meet-and-greet with McCartney at one of his Phoenix shows. Unfortunately, in May, the Make-A-Wish Foundation told the Blairs that McCartney's people apologized, but the singer's schedule would not allow for a meet-and-greet.

"He's just an amazing kid, and we were really sad to hear that Paul's meet-and-greets were all booked up, and that normally he works really well with Make-A-Wish, but he just couldn't do it this time," Gina says. "[Hayden] was sad, but he was okay with it, actually."

But Gina and her husband weren't. While Make-A-Wish started making preparations to fulfill Hayden's second wish (a trip to New York to see the architecture he's enamored with), they decided they were going to get their child to the concert, no matter what it took -- and in this case, it was going to take quite a lot. Hayden would need to watch the concert from his wheelchair, and that means they would need three tickets in a wheelchair-accessible seating area (good seats, of course), which would cost more than $800.

"My husband decided to work about 90 hours a week the entire summer to purchase tickets," Gina says.

A couple of weeks ago, they broke the news to their son. You can see what happened in the following video:



Earlier this afternoon, Hayden got even more good news. Gina got a call from one of McCartney's representatives. While the representative said that McCartney still probably wouldn't be able to meet the family, he was prepared to offer them upgraded seats and invited the family backstage to eat dinner with the crew.

Gina picked Hayden up from school early and told him the news. He was, of course, overjoyed.

By now, the family has most likely loaded up their Toyota Sienna and headed to the concert. McCartney may not have given the kid free tickets, nor did he commit to meeting him. But he has the chance to use his celebrity to shine a beam of happiness into the life of a very sick child, and he should take advantage of the opportunity. All he has to do is mention his name before he performs one of Hayden's favorite songs, like "Blackbird," which McCartney played in Los Angeles on Sunday.

So come on, Paul. Give the kid a shout-out. Give him what might be the happiest moment of life, and let him forget about the hospital visits, the IVs, and stomach-feeding tube, and the kidney issues for a few serene, glorious seconds.

Correction: This blog originally stated that the Blairs were from Glendale. It also said that they had converted their van into a wheelchair van; they haven't -- the cost is too much. And Gina Blair says that while Hayden's kidneys aren't "failing," they do have "issues."

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My Voice Nation Help
53 comments
naoma
naoma

I love your little son.  He is adorable and I am thrilled he got to meet Paul.  It is truly heart warming that Paul came through with the meeting.  Thanks for your story and the best to your son.  

Annde Mauk
Annde Mauk

This little boy is my friend's son. He did get to meet Paul and had dinner backstage with the band. Seats upgraded... The whole shabang!!! I will forward this onto my friend so she can respond.

Kyla
Kyla

I am one of Hayden Blair's health professionals who helps Gina 6 days a week, as that being said I know that Hayden LOVES the beatles.... he sings and plays the guitar for me just about every day even when he is not feeling his best.  anything to do with the beatles puts a smile a Hayden's face.


I also know that his dad worked very hard to make his little boys dream come true.


StrangeDaysIndeed, what a real good way of being an uneducated person and insulting the Blair family as they are amazing people.   I couldn't ask for a better family to work with.

For your information....Hayden's first wish, two years ago, with the make a wish foundation, was to go to Disney World at Christmas time cause he loves Christmas lights.  Sadly, he was in the hospital for the umpteenth time that year and unable to go.  Make a wish asked him at a later date if he still wanted to go to Disney World or if he would like something else.  That is when he told them he wanted to play a few songs with Paul and Ringo, as that was his ONE TRUE WISH.  This is not something his parents wanted or some type of publicity stunt.  This child truly LOVES the Beatles & lives and breathes his infinite knowledge of everything about them. 


 Make a wish tried to do all they could to make this happen but because Paul had to cancel his entire Asia concert schedule due to his extended illness, his meet and greets for this tour were all booked up.  The Blair family had been told by Make a Wish that it may be able to happen at a later time but because they don't know how much longer Hayden would be able to enjoy a wish like he can now, they chose to move forward with their own plan.


Check out www.mitoaction.org for a chance to educate yourself on this horrific disease that robs so many children of their lives and kills more children each year than ALL CANCERS COMBINED!!!  It's often referred to as the invisible disease because so many appear "normal" or "healthy looking". So quit judging what you have NO knowledge about.


Mitochondrial disease research is so desperately needed for not only Hayden but his little brother Tanner, as well as so many other children and individuals affected with it. 


 Lets focus on the good of this story. 

 Hayden got to "meet" Paul (albeit from a distance while Paul was on stage during the private sound check but he DID speak to him directly) & his staff treated their family like royalty last night

It may not have started the way the Blair's envisioned it, but his ONE TRUE WISH was fulfilled by the end of the night!



Kyla M 

Zach Widehat
Zach Widehat

:) wow that's cool and I bet that's his hero

VincentDrysdale
VincentDrysdale

The article update isn't entirely clear or accurate.  The Blair family sat right in front of me during the concert.  Gina Blair told me that they did in fact get to meet Paul.  Also, I saw Hayden holding a pair of drumsticks, not just one.  Throughout the show, members of the McCartney crew were constantly coming up to them to check on them and give them more items.  Lastly, Hayden had his electric guitar with him throughout the show.  One time, he got out of his wheelchair with it and was really rocking out.  They are a very nice family, and I wish them well.

Jim Daniels
Jim Daniels

If anyone is to blame Its the PR folks. People assume the artist deals directly with this stuff. They arrive in town, get a schedule from their road mgr. - They dont make the schedule. I would be gettin ugly with the PR folks

Matt Pasonen
Matt Pasonen

Can never be to busy to fulfill a wish like this. Sad :(

Jim Daniels
Jim Daniels

Not excusing anybody, but s couple facts. Celebs get hundreds of meet n greet requests in every town visited; Celebs PR. people handle this not the Celeb; Acts usually srrive in town a few hours before show & often leave town right after.

caprice122163
caprice122163

This maybe the reason Paul McCartney has not met him, he had recently been in a virus in Japan...he maybe does  not want the boy to catch what he had..Paul McCartney is well by our standards...the boy as sick as he is catch tiniest virus of what Paul McCartney  had and make his condition worse. Paul McCartney have to check with his own doctors if it is alright to make any kind of visit for the boy's sake.

StrangeDaysIndeed
StrangeDaysIndeed

Also, I would point out that Paul has met sick kids from Make a Wish but he always stipulates that the meeting be private. He doesn't want publicity from this; he only does it to meet the sick kid. And in this case, this particular family clearly wants publicity and has been lobbying on YouTube for ages.


But you can read this account of Paul meeting a terminally ill teenager thru Make a Wish and the story was only revealed in 2014, years after.


http://www.kshe95.com/blogs/kshe-blog/paul-mccartney-and-girl-black-beret

StrangeDaysIndeed
StrangeDaysIndeed

Not long ago, Paul met another kid suffering from an illness backstage, along with his parents. I'm sure there are LOADS of people who make these sorts of requests. So those of you eager to rush to judgment should realize Paul accommodates a lot of them. And his team DID give the family much better (and more expensive seats) and backstage access. But why should he be blackmailed into meeting this family? 


I'm kinda tired of parents using their ill children as an excuse for them to meet McCartney. The kid is 7. Why not a trip to Disneyland or something a KID that age actually wants, rather than an idea the parents planted in his head.

Mikey Lee
Mikey Lee

Paul should make time for a visit.

Marty Iamnotadude Martinez
Marty Iamnotadude Martinez

I wasn't harrassing you hahaha what the heck. Don't be upset because I pointed out your crappy spelling.

Kyo Ono
Kyo Ono

He is working, we all experienced super tight schedules at work, can the kid be taken to the concert?

Fred Isaac
Fred Isaac

Actually that's my middle name good assumption there.

Fred Isaac
Fred Isaac

Just remember you ran your mouth first beaner

Fred Isaac
Fred Isaac

I didn't start harassing her.. she started harassing me so I spoke back. Simple. Your a chump if you keep your mouth shut.. looks like we have a few chumps in here

Fred Isaac
Fred Isaac

Born and raised in Massachusetts just south of Boston. :)

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

Marty, you can stay. Fred can go back to Europe.

Mark Hernandez
Mark Hernandez

come on down to the marquee on Friday kid . we will make time for you .. Psyphen

Jennifer Salazar
Jennifer Salazar

Even if you WERE from Mexico, at least you know how to spell!!

Fred Isaac
Fred Isaac

Well your last name isn't exactly Smith Now is it...

Rocky Point Laura
Rocky Point Laura

Paul has always been my least favorite Beatle!!!! Too busy making mega millions to shake the hand of a dying child...sms. :-(

Fred Isaac
Fred Isaac

Its never to late for you to go back to Mexico

Joe Rollins
Joe Rollins

It's possible that Paul's people are going to have him backstage because Paul plans on surprising him. Did anyone consider that?

Jennifer Salazar
Jennifer Salazar

Paul McCartney should be grateful anyone Hayden's age knows who he IS!

junio.estevez
junio.estevez

You are just showing you have no understanding of how many requests there are for each show and how many children and adults with illnesses/disabilities/special needs are met. It has to be planned and co-ordinated there are a lot of requests. You can't disappoint someone you have already promised to meet and there are limits to how many people Paul can meet per show. He has to get ready and perform etc as well.

CharlieD324
CharlieD324

@StrangeDaysIndeed I agree with your first point. Why should a child with a disease have a much greater priority to meet Paul than the rest of us.

DavidAccomazzo
DavidAccomazzo moderator

@StrangeDaysIndeed A few things.


1) McCartney's people offered the family seats that weren't as good the ones they had already purchased.


2) Funny you should mention DIsneyland -- I chose not to include this detail in the story, but the Blair family did indeed try to secure a trip to Disneyland for Hayden through Make-A-Wish prior to the McCartney concert, but circumstances prevented them from going.


3) Hayden is certainly a Beatles fan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ycDW-5w9SM

CharlieD324
CharlieD324

Don't let the article bias modify your own beliefs.

StrangeDaysIndeed
StrangeDaysIndeed

Why  would Paul put a sick child on stage? It would just look like he was using this sick kid to get positive publicity for himself. Bizarre comment.

CharlieD324
CharlieD324

She did not "harass" you. She simply offered a piece of advice. You unnecessarily "spoke back". Also, You're*

CharlieD324
CharlieD324

@Rocky Point LauraThere's no need to demean Paul for complications beyond his control. If you are suggesting that Paul is the worst Beatle because of his apparent priorities, according to your hasty judgement, maybe you should be more reticent. The Beatle who was the most apathetic towards other people was likely to be John. I am not saying this with disdain. With no disrespect, a dying child's wish is not always realized. There are limitations to what can be granted. 

junio.estevez
junio.estevez

@CharlieD324 @StrangeDaysIndeed but they aren't saying that.

the meet and greet slots are taken up by other people who are ill or who have special needs. However some of you don't want to acknowledge that or be reasonable. McCartney has dozens of requests and meets dozens of people but those organising it need to communicate their requests in time and to the right people or miscommunications, as the mother mentioned in the article will happen and then the slots will be full but it sounds as if an effort was made to try and accomodate Hayden even though things had not been communicated well, so that's good and hopefully he had a lovely time.

junio.estevez
junio.estevez

@DavidAccomazzo @StrangeDaysIndeed Well how much of a hater do you look David? Friends of the family are coming on to say the family were treated really well, the little boy was met and is happy and you are portraying the situation as otherwise in your article. Really poor journalism if you can call it that. Perhaps you should fix your report?

StrangeDaysIndeed
StrangeDaysIndeed

@DavidAccomazzo @StrangeDaysIndeed  


And since the family is clearly satisfied (given your update), why are you making such a big deal out of it. Non-story. The McCartney team obviously can't give away seats that are already purchased. They have to give seats that are available. And clearly they didn't know the family had better seats already. Sheesh, the kid is happy. The family is happy. End of story.  

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