Callum's 'the happiest bloke on earth'
Ten years after his wish was granted to meet motorbike daredevil Robbie Maddison, Callum Price is spreading hope to seriously ill kids
Do you want to go to the moon?
It was a statement Callum Price will never forget. Sarah from Make-A-Wish was calling to ask if he’d thought of what his wish would be.
“Callum,” Sarah began. “If you wanted to go to the moon and back, we would try our best to get you there.”
In the end it wasn’t quite the moon that Callum wished for. But he did travel 16,000 km for his wish.
Callum, his younger sister and their parents went from Wagga Wagga in NSW to Rome in Italy to see his hero, motorbike daredevil Robbie Maddison perform.
Brave face for everyone around him
Callum was diagnosed with kidney reflux when he was one year old.
Long-term it meant his kidneys would eventually shut down and he’d need a kidney transplant.
But for many years, he was able to maintain his health and kidney function with two injections a night and tablets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Despite all his medication, Callum tried to have a normal childhood and threw himself into sport.
“You don’t want other kids knowing you’ve got to have needles and tablets so I couldn’t really stay at mates’ places,” Callum said.
“I didn’t let anyone see that side of me. You always just let them see the football player or the motocross rider.”
Mum gives her kidney
At age 16, in Callum’s words, his kidneys “gave way” and the time came for a transplant.
Callum’s family members were tested and his mother Sharon was found to be a compatible match.
“It was hard to take it from my mum, she’s a sweet little innocent lady,” Callum said.
“And she doesn’t like blood tests but she had to have them. She was strong though and did it quite easily.”
On the day of the transplant Callum woke at 7am after a sleepless night thinking about his mum.
Sharon got through the procedure ok but Callum stayed in hospital for a month, with his body rejecting the transplant.
“I had four rejections in the first year so it was a very stressful time,” Callum said.
Focus on Italy
During one of Callum’s many days in hospital, Sharon noticed a Make-A-Wish poster and decided to apply for a wish.
Motocross-loving Callum’s wish was to see the Red Bull X-Fighters, the world’s best freestyle motorbike riders which included Australian daredevil Robbie Maddison.
When Callum got the call from Make-A-Wish that his wish had been approved, he was given a choice of countries to go and see the X-Fighters.
“She rattled off a few countries but once I heard Rome, Italy, I stopped her right there and said that’s where I want to go,” Callum said.
“I’d never been overseas before so it was the perfect place to choose.
“It was like every bad thing that was happening in hospital stopped and I could finally focus on something positive.”
The week before Callum and his family were due to leave for Italy, he had to return to hospital, putting the trip in doubt.
“I had another rejection and the doctors said if things didn’t calm down I wouldn’t be going to Rome,” Callum said.
“I remember saying to mum and dad and the doctors ‘I’ll be going on my wish no matter what’.
“I was so determined to make it that I got through that week and came out with better results than ever because I was just so determined to get to Rome.
“And that’s how it has played out through my life since I had the wish. I set a goal and that’s what I go for. Make-A-Wish has changed my life so much.”
Callum bonds with Robbie
For Callum and his family, it was the trip of a lifetime.
The highlight was spending time with Robbie Maddison, who Callum said went out of his way to make him feel comfortable.
“I think Robbie finds it kind of easy to talk to people like me because he’s been through a lot himself with his crashes and losing organs and breaking bones,” Callum said.
“He understood what it was like to put your family through hard times and how your family is always there for you.
“When we were chatting, his people were telling him he had to warm up but he would say ‘yeah I’ll get to that’. He definitely cared about me being there.
“I’d give up a million dollars to experience that week again.”
Callum said to see his parents and little sister Tarnii happy on the trip also meant the world to him.
“We weren’t going to hear from any doctors over there so all we had to think about was what we were doing that day,” he said.
“Everyone had a smile on their face, it was an escape.”
Callum spreads the word
His little sister Tarnii says Callum is the most positive person she’s met.
Tarnii remembers Callum being stoic in hospital for his transplant.
“He was in that much pain but he would always say ‘it’s not too bad’,” she said.
“He never lets on that there’s something wrong with him. He will never make out that he’s got bigger problems than anyone else.”
Callum's positivity was challenged in 2020 when he had to go back to hospital to have a cancerous tumour removed from his kidney.
But now he’s back to doing the things he loves: riding motorbikes, spending time with family and spreading the word about Make-A-Wish.
He’s a Wish Ambassador, taking with both hands any opportunities to speak in public about Make-A-Wish.
“If I can do a speech and tell my story I will do it every time because I want people to know that Make-A-Wish is a great organisation,” Callum said.
“What I tell people is Make-A-Wish gives kids an escape from the harsh reality that is their medical journey.”
Callum said his medical journey had taught him to value every day.
“People generally say ‘how can you go through so much and still be the happiest bloke on earth?’ but when you get through the tough times you appreciate what you’ve got,” he said.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed to have the people around me for the highs and lows. The support from family, friends and Make-A-Wish.
“Every day I just try to think how I can do more to help people with chronic illnesses.”
What I tell people is Make-A-Wish gives kids an escape from the harsh reality that is their medical journeyCallum Price kidney transplant
Make-A-Wish Australia stopped granting overseas travel wishes in 2015.
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The Wish Journey
How a wish comes to life
Make-A-Wish volunteers visit each child to capture their greatest wish, getting to the heart of what kids truly want and why. This profound insight is part of what makes Make-A-Wish unique, giving children full creative control and helping to shape their entire Wish Journey.
Back at Make-A-Wish HQ, we partner with families, volunteers and medical teams to design the ultimate wish experience - and start rallying our partners and supporters to help make it happen.
In the lead up to the wish, we take each child on a journey designed to build excitement and provide a welcome distraction from medical treatment. Anticipation can be incredibly powerful, helping to calm, distract and inspire sick kids at a time they need it most.
When the moment finally arrives, children get to experience their greatest wish come true - it's everything they've imagined and more. Pinch yourself, and don't forget to take a breath and enjoy every precious moment!
Wish impact studies show that a child's wish lives on, long after the moment. A wish gives more than just hope – with an incredible and lasting effect on the lives of sick kids, their families and wider communities.