VANDALIA — When 12 year old Ashton Burke was asked what he would like to do as part of Make A Wish, he didn’t hesitate – he wanted to meet Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime from the Transformer movie series.
Little did he, or his family know, how quickly they would have to react once the final arrangements were made.
Ashton’s trip was made possible by the employees of Vandalia’s Inteva Products, a manufacturer of automobile interior, electronic, roof, and closure systems for auto companies world-wide.
“Every year, Make a Wish is one of the main fundraising projects we do here at Inteva,” said Mark Combs, Product Line Manager. “We appreciate Make A Wish for connecting us with the family they would like us to help support.”
Combs said the funds are raised throughout the year such as “Friday Jeans Day,” breakfasts, raffles, and other special fundraisers.
“This is an important part of who we are as a company,” said Combs. “All of our sites do these sorts of things to contribute to the community they are in. It is important for us to be part of the communities that we work in every day.”
Throughout the interview process with Make A Wish volunteers, the theme of Transformers kept rising to the top.
“Ashton wanted to meet Peter Cullen and ride the Transformer ride with him and we thought that would never happen,” said Ashton’s mother, Elizabeth Burke.
How the trip ultimately happened was a pleasant birthday surprise, however.
“We didn’t hear anything for quite a while and then they called a week before Ashton’s birthday and asked about our availability,” Elizabeth said. “The told us we were leaving in six days. We didn’t know details until 24 hours before. It was so amazing because Peter Cullen and his team wanted to make Ashton’s birthday really special.”
Ashton said that Cullen has always been someone he looks up to.
“He is a huge inspiration and has been doing the voice of Transformers for almost 30 years,” said Ashton. “He’s a big part of the Transformers franchise.”
Despite some nerves, Ashton said he was thrilled with meeting Cullen.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, but it was more surprising than I thought it would be,” he said. “It was surprising in a good way.”
“It was very emotional,” said Elizabeth. “It is hard to put into words how much he loves Transformers.”
Ashton’s Wish was organized through the Make A Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The chapter was founded in 1983 and has granted over 13,000 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.