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Meet Riley, Our Make-A-Wish Foundation Camper

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This summer, more than 50,000 students from all walks of life attended iD Tech. One student, Riley, came to us via the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“He chose something academic, can you believe that?” Riley’s mom, Rachael, says. “Originally he wanted to do something for the family, but we asked him to do something just for him.”

Such selflessness and strength are typical for Riley. Throughout his treatments for Synovial Cell Sarcoma over a 96-day timeframe, which at one point reduced him to only one functioning lung, Riley stayed powerful and calm.

“Focus on the good,” he says, “because eventually more good will come.”

This optimism carried him through the waiting period before his parents were able to tell him his Wish had been granted—he was going to attend iD Tech.

When iD Tech and Make-A-Wish Meet

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Riley with his two younger siblings

“When a family is hit with a disease like cancer, it’s something that affects everyone,” Rachael says. “The Make-A-Wish team put so much thought and effort in everything they did, making sure we knew everything was going to be okay.”

Riley had done some research into tech camps and discovered iD Tech. Angela, his Wish Granter, contacted us to make it happen, and we were more than delighted to welcome this astounding young man to camp. The process was effortless and smooth.

“Make-A-Wish gives you hope,” Rachael says. “It was like a warm family hug welcoming us.”

Riley seconds his mother’s feelings. “It was both exciting and unnerving. Make-A-Wish did such a great job guiding me through this. In the end, we found the perfect thing I was looking for.”

Making a Wish Come True

The week of July 16th, Riley attended the iD Game Design & Development Academy held at Harvard University. He enrolled in Game Design & Development Studios 10, a two-week course where he studied Autodesk Maya and Unreal Engine 4, two industry-standard tools in the world of video game development.

“I learned so much, and the instructors were so amazing,” Riley says. “It felt like a vacation except even better, because I got to go to camp.”

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Riley learning with his instructor

Riley spent his two weeks developing a platformer game where the player collects a pickup (an item in-game, like a weapon or a health pack) and shoots a target.

“Once you get the hang of the software, you can make some really amazing things,” Riley says. “You can choose your own path, it’s an open sandbox of development. Unreal Engine 4 especially has some really great lighting and material processing to make your games look good.”

When not designing his game, Riley got a chance to explore Harvard’s campus, make friends and take part in the activities built into the Academy’s two-week curriculum.

“iD Tech was a great experience that fulfilled everything I wanted,” Riley says. “Not only do you get to learn with instructors who go above and beyond, but you’re in a friendly environment that encourages forging relationships with students with similar interests to yours.”

iD Tech’s CEO, Pete Ingram-Cauchi, got to meet Riley during his session.

“I got to see the game he was creating firsthand. He was engaged, personable, and had made several friends,” Pete says, incredibly impressed. “Riley’s Wish was to attend our Academy. Not to go to Disney or to Universal Studios. He chose us. I am speechless and thankful.”

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When asked if his camp experience was what he expected, Riley emphatically replied, “Even better! I loved every minute and can’t wait to come back. I would stay here all summer if I could.”

Right now, Riley is without active disease. “You can’t let anything take you,” he says.

Feeling Inspired?

Check out more of our Success Stories! With more than 275,000 alumni, we’re endlessly proud of every single one of our campers.