A young man's dream is about to come true, thanks to Utah's Make A Wish Foundation. The young man, is my son, Dayne Nourse, and his dream is to meet the legendary martial artist and star of the silver screen, Jackie Chan.
Dayne's love of action movies, especially martial arts movies, started when he was a child.
He loves the grace and beauty of the Karate experts and Kung Fu fighters, with their choreographed moves, their impeccable sense of timing, not to mention the heart pounding action. He's also drawn to the characters' sense of duty and discipline and their internal codes of honor. And while there have been a lot of martial art movie heroes over the years, few can match the courage and charisma of the incomparable Jackie Chan. Not only is he a martial arts master, he comes across as funny and a genuinely nice guy.
A short while ago my wife Debi and I were approached by Utah's Make A Wish Foundation. Over the years, I've told a lot of stories about the great work they do helping kids and families facing incredible challenges. We assumed they had another story they wanted me to tell on my new home at Salt TV. Imagine our surprise when they said they had another idea. They wanted make a dream come true for our wonderful son, Dayne.
Many of you may not know, Dayne, who is now 15, was born with a rare affliction called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. In the course of his young life he's literally endured dozens of bone fractures, all the result of simple physical exertions that you and I would endure with ease. The slightest pressure in the wrong direction at the wrong time can cause his bones to shatter. The condition also means he'll be wheelchair bound and require a level of constant care until he comes fully of age. He's endured dozens of corrective surgeries over the years and come through them like a champ. But the road he's traveled has been anything but easy. It's also been daunting for his beautiful, caring mom and for me, but our challenges pale to what our brave son's been through. He constantly amazes us with strength and good humor.
Needless to say, we were grateful for the Make A Wish offer. When we discreetly asked Dayne if he had one wish what would it be, it didn't him long for him to come up with an answer. He wanted to meet the master, the one and only Jackie Chan.
When Make A Wish learned of his request, they didn't bat an eye. It was a tall order, that was for sure, but when you're in the business of granting wishes you learn how to take things in stride. A few days passed when we got the word. Dayne's wish was going to come true! But meeting Jackie Chan wasn't the only wish that was going to be fulfilled. The folks at Make A Wish had another grand notion. They asked Deb and me to help make it come true.
So, on a snowy December night just before Christmas, Deb and I took Dayne for a drive. He thought he was going to a Chinese restaurant and to a holiday party to boot. Both of those notions were somewhat true, but there was plenty more in store.
Minutes later when we entered the Red Lotus Martial Arts School in downtown Salt Lake Dayne soon realized something special was about to happen. For assembled inside were dozens of close friends and family members, not to mention martial artists kneeling on mats, poised and ready to put on a show. For nearly a solid hour this disciplined team who call the Red Lotus home, went through an array of awe inspiring drills. Their discipline and dexterity proved boggling, truly something to behold. Dayne was riveted; the display all encompassing, but the dojo master had something else up his sleeve. At the sound of a gong, he had an announcement about a special guest and a special presentation. That's when he asked Dayne to come forward ...
DAYNE'S DREAM COMES TRUE (PART II)
As Dayne was told to come forward the look on his face was priceless, a mix of wonder and astonishment. He had just been called out to present himself before the distinguished Sifu Jerry Gardner, owner and head master of the Red Lotus School of Movement, a seventh degree black belt, a highly renowned martial artist known worldwide.
Dayne took a deep breath and then made his way to the front of the class, where a couple of dreams came true. First, came the rarest of honors, as he was presented with a black sash in martial arts for his bravery and character in dealing with his life long affliction. Head Master Gardner read an official proclamation, noting Dayne's exemplary courage and welcoming him to the worldwide family of martial artists. Dayne's mother and I were deeply. Indeed, there was not dry eye in the house.
But then came the second revelation; not only was Dayne suddenly the holder of a distinguished black sash, he was also about to have another dream come true, to meet his hero, the one and only Jackie Chan. But there was a catch, he'd likely have to fly to Hong Kong in order to do it. When asked it if he was up to the trip, our cool and confident son had a straight forward answer. "When do we leave," he asked?
Well, this week Dayne's dream came true. After a short, 15 hour flight half way across the world, not only did he meet Jackie Chan, the actor treated Dayne to dinner and gave us all a tour of his Hong Kong office complex. He even gave Dayne a private Karate lesson!
The day started at Jackie' Chan's office, in the hills behind and above the bustling streets and skyscrapers of Hong Kong in the city's New Territories .
Here, this master of martial arts has his collection of antiques, studios, and memorabilia from all of his motions pictures including old wardrobes, stage props, and autographed pictures of other Hollywood celebrities, plus, his two beloved dogs, Jonesie and Jay-Jay. We were all treated to a very warn reception as Jackie prepared to be interviewed by Forbes magazine. Dayne's wish could possibly become a part of that article. Once that was completed, Jackie took things into his own hands and guided us through his complex, explaining the reasons for his most unusual collection. He even gave us a sneak peak at his newest production, "Operation Condor" which will start on location in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taiwan and Paris.
Jackie Chan is a most personable and generous in addition to being a true entertainer. He has donated millions to build schools in China, fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa and helping victims of Natural disasters all over the world. He gives interviews, he travels, and the love of what he does is quite evident. In his busy schedule he had the time to grant a little boy his most precious wish. And take the time to become his friend. With the questions and answers complete, we were off to one of Hong Kong's most exclusive restaurant in a private meeting room with his friends for dinner with Jackie. It was here Jackie Chan's charm and energy shined through with stories about how he grew up in Hong Kong, how he learned martial arts, how he was disciplined, even explaining how some of his injuries still hurt.
It was a million bucks worth of entertainment in about an hour and a half. And the memories of how this action hero made his name will live on in our minds for a long time. He truly did become a friend. And when it was over it was almost like saying another Christmas has ended.
When Dayne was asked what he would like to do now he said, "If I could have a second wish, I would like to meet Jackie Chan again." And do you know what, I would too.
Reporting from Hong Kong, for SALT TV, I'm Dick Nourse.