19-year-old Janesville man with brain cancer has last wish granted

JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) -- Nineteen-year-old Zach Olson from Janesville, who has terminal brain cancer, got the surprise of a lifetime at his favorite band's concert on Friday. Zach had one wish, to meet the band Shinedown, and his wish was more than granted.

Photo credit: Miranda Olson

Zach's mom, Miranda Olson, said it was a dream come true.

"My heart was full, my eyes were full, it was amazing," Miranda said. "To see that happen for him, to know that's all he wanted, I couldn't think of anything better."

Zach thought he was just going to see Shinedown's concert in Milwaukee. What he did not know was that he would get to meet the band, thanks to Thursday's Child, an organization that grants wishes for seriously ill kids and young adults.

Miranda had reached out to American Family Children's Hospital in Madison to ask if they could grant Zach's wish to meet the band. Staff at the hospital got in touch with Thursday's Child, who made it happen.

However, Miranda thought it would just be a simple meet-and-greet. It turned out to be much more. The lead singer, Brent, took Zach on a tour backstage and explained how the technical equipment worked. He also introduced Zach to the other two bands playing tonight.

The best part was that Zach and his family got to stand right next to the stage and watch the band perform.

"I was in shock," Zach said. "I think I liked everything about it."

Zach was first diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009, but he had been clean for several years when he went in for his annual scan in January.

"I had no concerns, I had no questions, I had no idea," Miranda said. "And they did the scan and we received the worst news ever."

Zach's cancer was back and growing fast, and this time, it was incurable. No one knew how much time Zach had left.

"If we get through today, we plan for tomorrow, but making dreams come true was the biggest thing I wanted," Miranda said.

Miranda said seeing Shinedown do so much for Zach was more than she could have dreamed.

"They made us feel like we were family, like we were part of them," she said. "I wish they knew what it meant to us to make this dream come true."

Miranda also wants to raise awareness for Thursday's Child. She said she had not heard of the organization before they helped grant Zach's wish, but she hopes to spread the word and help them in any way she can.

"If we can spread the word and make another child’s dream come true, that’s what means the most," Miranda said.

After helping grant Zach's last wish, Miranda said she, Zach and his little brother Gavin are trying to enjoy as much time together as they can.