Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Even before Barack Obama was elected president Tuesday, he had already changed one life - right here in San Francisco.

Seventeen-year-old James Kessler, a junior at Stuart Hall High School, is battling a rare and deadly sarcoma form of cancer.

He had only one wish: to meet Obama in Chicago on election night.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted The Chronicle, which forwarded James' request to the Obama campaign. Not only did campaign officials say "yes" - they did him one better. They phoned James' mom on Friday to suggest that her son immediately catch a plane to Henderson, Nev., where Obama was speaking the next day at a local high school.

After the speech, James was invited inside a portable classroom for a private chat with Obama.

"Unbelievable," said Jean Kessler, who tells us that Obama spoke to her son as if there were nothing else going on - talking about their families, James' hopes for attending college and more.

Finally, before posing with James and his mom for pictures, Obama reminded the teen "to dream big."

"And if this goes as we hope," Obama added, "we need to get you to Washington to my inaugural."

Then, for James, it was off to Chicago, where he was given a prime spot near the likes of former President Jimmy Carter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

"It was all I had hoped for," James told his tearful mom.

-SF Chronicle

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