Seven-year-old Zayden Wright has toughed it out through 38 echocardiograms, six heart catheterizations and four open heart surgeries due to a congenital heart disease. Despite all his challenges, he’s still an enthusiastic, imaginative little boy who dreamed of blasting off in a rocket ship to the rings of Saturn.
Last week, Zayden’s wish came true with the help of Atlanta-based virtual reality and 3D animation studio TRICK 3D and Make-A-Wish Georgia. Using VR technology, a team of technology experts, entertainment industry players, former astronauts, and non-profit leaders crafted an experience that allowed this little boy to experience an out-of-this-world adventure.
Zayden’s wish began to take flight when his wish-granting volunteer, Veronica Sheehan, a former Turner executive in television operations, connected with entertainment industry powerhouses Craig Heyl, a film and entertainment consultant, and Candice Alger, former CEO of Giant Studios and a VR/AR expert. The three put their heads together and came up with the idea of using the medium of VR to make Zayden’s wish a reality.
“Zayden’s wish combines everything we are passionate about at TRICK 3D,” said Chad Eikhoff, founder of TRICK 3D. “Crafting meaningful content that is produced at the highest level is the entire reason why we create.”
Zayden created the storyline of his journey all on his own: a blast off in a bright red rocket ship, a journey where he can see stars along the way, and an encounter with friendly aliens once he arrives at Saturn’s rings.
To help Zayden’s wish take even greater flight, the team was joined by former NASA astronaut and educational non-profit founder Commander LeRoy Chiao. In January, Commander Chiao took Zayden through an astronaut training program in preparation for his takeoff. And last week, Commander Chiao sat with Zayden on his VR blastoff, which took place at Dobbins Air Reserve base in Marietta, the largest multi-service reserve training base in the world.
— Make-A-Wish Georgia (@MakeAWishGA) May 1, 2017
VR, traditionally thought of as the medium for entertainment and gamers, is becoming a major player in the healthcare industry. Initial studies shows potential for pain distraction, exposure therapy, and anxiety and stress reduction.