It’s not every day you get to make someone’s wish come true. That’s more like a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to do that for someone. As a 23-year-old Marketing Specialist working her first full-time job, I never dreamed of having the chance to be a part of something so special so early in my career. I remember getting chills the first time I found out about the Make-A-Wish visit that would be happening in the spring of 2017, and I also remember immediately wanting to be a part of it. I think deep down I knew this was a really unique experience that anyone would be lucky to be involved in. Even though literally nobody asked me to be a part of this day, my mind was already racing a million miles a minute thinking of everything I could do to make this the best day ever for this inspiring young man. But enough about me, let’s get to the real reason why you’re here: Ryland Mishura.
Ryland Mishura is an 11-year-old from Mullica Hill, NJ. After spending even a minute with him, you’d be able to detect his undeniable positivity and kindness. There are a lot of words that could describe Ryland. Intelligent, polite, curious, energetic, awe-inspired. But perhaps the best way to describe him would be to say he’s a weather geek, which in the weather-world is a title you own proudly. That’s how he ended up here, at The Weather Channel.
Ryland took part in the Make-A-Wish program and his wish was to do a live forecast on The Weather Channel. This article is dedicated to Ryland and his visit. Hour-by-hour, here’s a look at the magical day Ryland and the Mishura family became a part of The Weather Channel family. (Warning: you’ll definitely want to grab a tissue before watching the video montage of the best moments at the end!)
Rick, Ryland, Madison, and Jennifer Mishura arriving at The Weather Channel
As soon as the Mishura family arrived in their limo, you could feel the staff’s excitement bursting at the seams. We all stood there, decked out in red for Ryland because it’s his favorite color, eagerly awaiting our guest of honor. Once they stepped out, there were immediate greetings and hugs all around. Everyone happily introduced themselves to each other and made sure Ryland had everything he needed to get the day started. Ryland was joined by his mom Jennifer, his dad Rick, and his little sister Madison. We corralled into the lobby of The Weather Channel where each family member got their official badge from The Weather Channel, which gave them ultimate access to facility. Ryland immediately noticed the customized welcome sign posted in our lobby and a smile spread across his face. I think that small action characterizes Ryland in a really great way- even a gesture as simple as a welcome sign, that I assumed would go unnoticed, meant the world to him.
Ryland standing in front of his welcome sign in the lobby
As we walked down to the first floor of the building, where all the TV action takes place, I heard him ask his mom, “Do you think I’ll be able to see Jim Cantore?” I smiled to myself knowing he had no idea the surprises we had in store for him, which not only included seeing Jim Cantore, but spending a couple hours exclusively with Jim and the AMHQ crew, who are all among his favorite meteorologists.
We walked into the newsroom and a nearly inaudible “woah” came from Ryland. Melody and Angela, two employees of The Weather Channel that helped organize the visit, were explaining what happens in the room when Jen Carfagno happened to glance over. She came to Ryland and excitedly greeted him, introduced herself to the Mishuras, and asked what he was most excited to see. When he replied “Jim Cantore”, she pointed him out in a crowd gathered across the room, where the AMHQ post-show meeting was happening. I blinked and Ryland was halfway across the room shaking Jim’s hand and saying how happy he was to meet him. After a few minutes of talking with Jim, Jen, and Stephanie (who surprised him with a huge bag of his favorite candy) we moved the party to an intimate breakfast where the conversation continued.
Ryland and the AMHQ crew chatting in the newsroom
The atmosphere at breakfast was full of joy. The Mishuras opened their gift bags and asked the AMHQ crew all of their questions. Angela, Melody, and I, as well as the the Make-A-Wish representatives, watched on with smiles, soaking in the fact that we were getting to witness an awesome 11-year-old cheerfully sitting alongside his meteorological heroes. Ryland talked about his (extensive and impressive) weather experience, and gave Jim a note about how much he inspired Ryland. I’m a pretty emotional person so I’ll admit, I teared up a bit when Jim read the letter out loud, but as I looked across the room I knew the sentiment had touched everyone else too. In true Ryland fashion, he followed up the heartfelt note by handing Jim his resume that stated he was looking for a position in 2028. The entire room cracked up and all agreed Ryland would be a wonderful addition to the team!
Cantore’s reaction to receiving Ryland’s heartfelt letter and resume
After breakfast, we moved into Studio 9, where popular shows on The Weather Channel, including AMHQ and Weather Center Live, take place. It’s here where Ryland got an inside look at the inner workings of his favorite channel. Ryland and Jim took the floor and got to report on the anatomy of a tornado and a hurricane, all thanks to the graphics team who builds the Augmented Reality seen on TV. Even 9-year-old Madison got to take part in the virtual fun with a segment on spooky Halloween weather with Jen Carfagno. Lots of photos were taken, lots of questions were asked, and overall, you could tell Ryland was having a ball!
Ryland and Cantore explaining the anatomy of a tornado using Augmented Reality
Ryland explaining the parts of a tornado
Ryland’s sister Madison and Jen Carfagno having some fun with Augmented Reality
Once the fun in Studio 9 was done, it was time to get to the real reason for Ryland’s visit: to do a forecast on The Weather Channel. He met with Weather Producer Briana Gordon, and together they went over what Ryland would be reporting on and the graphics he would be using. The guy is seriously a pro, because I thought it would take at least 10 minutes for him to feel prepared, but nope, it took around 3 minutes. Once you see his on-air appearance, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. We continued to prep for the show by showing him around the Lab and where he would stand at what times. This is when Ryland met Paul Goodloe, Dr. Greg Postel, Maria LaRosa, and Alex Wallace, as they were either preparing to end or begin their broadcast on Weather Center Live at 11 AM. Then Ryland went into hair and makeup and came out looking picture perfect for his TV debut. As we watched Weather Center Live happening on the sidelines of the Lab, I noticed Ryland looking back and forth between what was going on in front of us and back at the TV. It really is surreal experiencing that for the first time, when you see something happening with your own eyes and then see it on live TV being broadcast to millions. I feel like a lot of people who work in television every day lose sight of how magical it all is, especially to an 11-year-old wanna-be-meteorologist. While we were watching and waiting for Ryland’s segment, he met Dr. Greg Forbes, Carl Parker, and Sarah Dillingham, and also got some advice on how to act on camera from his new pal Jim. The anticipation and excitement in the room was undeniable, and at 11:20 AM, it was finally time for Ryland’s debut.
Taking a look at weather graphics with Weather Producer Briana Gordon
Ryland and Madison standing on the sidelines of the Lab
Cantore giving Ryland advice for when he goes on-air
Ryland’s on-air debut with Maria LaRosa and Alex Wallace
With his favorite meteorologists and family members scattered behind the cameras, Ryland was introduced to the world by Maria LaRosa and then took off with the forecast for Mullica Hill. I can speak for the entire room (and everyone watching from home) when I say it was astonishing how much of a natural Ryland was. It was like he’d been on-air a million times before and this was just another day at the office! He finished the New Jersey forecast and then joined Alex Wallace behind the desk to do a day-by-day look at the country’s weather. Once again, he completely crushed it. When the four minute segment was over and it went to commercial, applause burst out from all his onlooking fans. People were cheering and complimenting Ryland’s flawless appearance, all the while I was standing there trying to pick up my jaw off the floor. I don’t think anyone in that room will ever forget those four minutes!
Ryland and Alex Wallace doing the national forecast
We continued our tour of The Weather Channel with a look at Studio C, otherwise known as the Weather Underground set. Ryland tested out the green screen in the room and admitted it was harder than it looked! He and Madison particularly liked all of the trinkets on the set, including countless weather books, weather gadgets, and of course, the famous Twister pinball machine hidden in the back corner.
Checking out the WU Cave
Experimenting with the green screen- it’s harder than it looks!
From the WU Cave we made our way outdoors to get an inside look at the station’s severe weather truck. Ryland got to sit in the passenger seat, often occupied by Jim Cantore or Mike Bettes, and learn about the equipment and technology inside the truck.
The Mishuras getting an inside look at The Weather Channel’s severe weather truck
Once the vehicle tour was complete, it was time for some much-needed fuel! We headed to The Weather Channel’s cafe, The Front, and met up with a swath of meteorologists, including Mike Bettes, Alex Wilson, Tom Niziol, Bryan Norcross, Dr. Erika Navarro, Dr. Greg Forbes, and Carl Parker. Everyone chatted the hour away, learning about Ryland’s love of weather, his hometown, his hobbies, and answering his and his family’s questions. I sat on the opposite side of the table, almost too enamored with the scene in front of me to eat my food.
Everyone gathered at lunch
When lunch was over, we headed back down to the first floor to gather the Mishura family’s things and prepare for their departure. However, before leaving, Ryland had a few more surprises coming his way. Mike Bettes and Alex Wilson brought him fun WUTV stickers and personalized autographs, and a representative from the IT department gifted Ryland with a Nintendo 3DS with games! I didn’t even know this was happening, so the shocked expression on Ryland’s face was probably (definitely) mirrored on mine. We all went into Studio 9 together to take one last look and enjoy our last few moments together. None of us wanted this day to end!
The Mishuras with their Make-A-Wish escort Danielle and The Weather Channel’s visit organizers
The Mishuras loaded up their limo and were soon on their way. They expressed so much gratitude and thanks for making this day special for their whole family, but it was them who did us all a favor. To spend the day with such a genuinely kind and loving family and make a spectacular kid’s wish come true was such a special experience. It’s an indescribable feeling, being able to watch someone’s dream come true before your eyes, and it’s one we’ll never forget. I speak for everyone when I say it was an absolute pleasure hosting Ryland and his family, and if he wants a job in 2028, he’s got one.
Ryland had an awesome day exploring The Weather Channel!
See a snapshot Ryland’s day for yourself below: