As our Access to a Dream series continues, we introduce you to Pat Pedraja, an extraordinary young man who is facing a life-threatening situation.
And as the 11-year-old battles leukemia, he’s using humor, an amazing attitude and a little help from Adam Sandler to reach his goal.
“I think my purpose for getting leukemia was to do this national marrow drive so that people can save the life of a kid like me,” Pat told Access Hollywood’s Tim Vincent. “Just to save a life.”
“When was the first time you realized the illness that you had? When was that discovered?” Tim asked Pat.
“In four days, it will be a year,” replied the youngster who carries himself with a maturity far beyond his years.
In fact, since day one, Pat has tackled his disease head on with a positive outlook.
“After he was diagnosed, the next day in the hospital he turned to me and said, ‘Mom I am glad this happened to me. I am glad that I got leukemia,’” Pat’s mother ClaudineAndrews said. “I asked what was it going to teach him and he said, ‘It’s going to teach me something that I need to know in my life and it’s going to make me a better person.’”
Pat and his mom will be driving across the country to raise money for his charity “One Child’s Dream — Driving for Donors,” which raises awareness about the importance of donating bone marrow.
And one thing is for sure, all the attention along his journey has gone straight to his head.
“We are selling ad space on his head in each of the 30 cities we are going to,” Claudine explained.
(Pat and Will Smith on the “Reign Over Me” red carpet)
Access introduced Patto severalcelebrities, including Will Smith, Liv Tyler, Tim Robbins and Howie Mandel, but the one star he really wanted to meet was his favorite of all - Adam Sandler.
“I just like the way that he can make you laugh,” Pat told us.
So Access helped Pat and his mom travel to New York City to attend the premiere of Adam’s new film “Reign Over Me.” And we even handed him the mic!
“This is Patrick Pedraja reporting live from the red carpet,” he beamed into our cameras, showing signs of a true Access reporter in the making.
Then, it was time for the VIP treatment with Adam.
“Hey buddy. Good to meet you. How you feeling?” Adam asked Pat on the red carpet.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Pat smiled.
And he was feeling good enough to try and outwit his comedic hero, who shares the same taste in canine companions.
Adam has a bulldog named Matzoball, who replaced his previous pooch Meatball. But Pat had his own idea for his dog’s name and wanted to get Adam’s approval.
“We might be getting a bulldog and I was wondering I can carry on the tradition and call mine Melonball?” Pat asked Adam.
“Melonball! That’s a good one,” Adam laughed giving Pat a high five. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Pat and his mother will begin their 30-city tour on May 5 in Tampa, Florida, raising money along the way to cover the $52 it costs to test each new bone marrow donor.
For more information, visit Pat’s Web site DrivingForDonors.com.