Make-A-Wish recipient Zachary meets and becomes Hellboy
(CBS News) When asked what he wished for most, 6-year-old Zachary said he wanted to meet Hellboy and become a miniature version of the comic book turned movie hero himself.
Enter Make-A-Wish, Spectral Motion and actor Ron Perlman, who all worked together to grant the young boy's wish.
"The best part for all of us is to see the look on their faces when Zachary was sitting next to Hellboy on the couch," Mike Elizalde, co-founder of Spectral Motion, told HealthPop. "Every time I look at that picture, I get a little emotional because of his body language. Everything about that says, 'I'm loving this. This is my wish fulfilled.'"
Zachary, whose last name is withheld for privacy reasons, has been battling leukemia and qualified to have a wish granted by the Make-A-Wish. His parents told the organization that the boy has seen the movie "Hellboy," which is based off the supernatural crime investigation comic book series by Mike Mignola, over 100 times while in the hospital.
The group grants requests for children ages 2.5 through 18 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. According to Mark Hiegel, national communications manager for Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, the organization grants a wish every 38 minutes and fulfilled 14,000 wishes last year, 800 of which were sports or celebrity-related. Though the majority of wishes revolve around going to Disneyland or Disney World, Make-A-Wish has gotten some interesting requests, including one child who wanted to be the boss of an ice cream man for a day and another child who wanted to work in a pickle factory.
Hiegel said that Zachary's request came through normal channels, and his organization contacted Spectral Motion, who has worked with Make-A-Wish on three events to date. The company creates cinematic creature and special makeup effects, animatronics and action props for movies. Spectral Motion was also nominated for an Academy Award for its work on "Hellboy 2" and won a Saturn Award for work on "Hellboy."
"Hellboy's been a wonderful experience for us," Elizalde explained, "And so has Make-A-Wish. That both could be embedded together for us was wonderful."
The whole event was planned as a surprise for the 6-year-old. Spectral Motion contacted Ron Perlman, who happily turned himself into the makeup-intensive character - it takes about three hours for the whole process - for Zachary. The company had kept all the molds for the character so it was easy to reapply the makeup on the actor.
Zachary was then brought to Spectral Motion and given a tour of the studio. Though Elizalde initially thought he should keep the talking short to keep the 6-year-old's attention, he was surprised how interested and attentive the boy was, calling him "very, very sweet."
"He was on fire for what were were doing," he recalled.
Then Zachary met his hero.
"It was a big payoff to have some small measure of our work have this kind of effect and have this kind of impact of our child," Elizalde said.
Finally, it was Zachary's turn to become Hellboy. Using a pre-made headpiece made on a child-sized mold, they were able to transform the boy into his favorite character.
"We prepared something on a lifecast," Elizalde explained. "We had a child mold, but it turned out to be a little too big on him, but he didn't mind at all."
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