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Making garbage wishes come true
Carter make a wish preview

You hardly meet anybody who dreams of becoming a garbage collector.

Then again, Carter Gomes isn’t just anybody.

The Turlock 7-year-old, who is now cancer free after a battle with leukemia, will have his dream realized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Monday when he gets to ride in a garbage truck as it travels its route, lifting cans high into the air to collect refuse. And people are invited to come out and cheer him on.

Carter has a roll-out service for his neighbors, taking their cans to the curb on trash day. He also has his pretend garbage route set up in his home. All his play is centered around being a garbageman.

But why garbage?

“That is the question my husband and I have been wondering about for a long time,” said Elsa Gomes, Carter’s mom. “He’s always been very excited about the garbage trucks collecting the garbage. He’s always been into it. It just is.”

Carter made this wish when he was first diagnosed as a 3-year-old, but plans had to be put on hold. His litter sister required open-heart surgery and the COVID pandemic hit. But four years later, he’s still fascinated by garbage trucks.

“He had a garbage-truck themed party for this third birthday,” said Elsa. “And then he was a garbage truck for Halloween. Then he requested another garbage-truck themed party.”

The local Make-A-Wish chapter, which stretches from Oregon to Nevada and down to Kern County, has seen just two requests from kids who wanted to be garbage collectors.

“Our chapter is huge and we’ve fulfilled 9,000 wishes,” said Brandon Kisker, senior marketing/communications manager for the local Make-A-Wish chapter. “We might be having a third request to be a garbageman in Reno. But it’s pretty rare.”

Jesse Marchant of Turlock Scavenger, whose great-grandfather Leo Poggi co-founded the company, is happy that his organization can play a part in making Carter’s dream a reality.

“It’s just really an honor to be able to do this,” said Marchant, a fourth-generation garbageman who now fulfills an administrative role for Turlock Scavenger. “It just really solidifies the fact that we’re members of this community and provide a valuable service. Kids love to go out and see the garbage trucks on garbage day. It’s exciting to fulfill a wish. Our whole staff is very excited. That’s the main word: excitement.”

“Excited” was exactly the word Carter used when Marchant came to his house on Friday to let him know that his wish was finally becoming a reality.

Carter’s day will start at his day at 9 a.m. on Monday at his school, Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy. He’ll make a stop at Emanuel Cancer Center, where he will pick up the trash and get to ring the chemotherapy bell — something he did not get to do upon completion of his chemo treatments in May 2020 because of the pandemic. At 10 a.m., he’ll pull into the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, 115 S. Golden State Blvd., and he’ll conclude the public portion of his day at City Hall, 156 S. Broadway, where Mayor Amy Bublak will have more surprises for him.

“As the Mayor of Turlock, I am both honored and humbled by the ability to participate in a life-changing chapter in Carter's life,” said Bublak. “This child and his family faced a diagnosis that many of us cannot imagine. I am grateful that Carter beat cancer and that he and his family can celebrate through the gift of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I am thrilled to be a part of this special day."

The public is invited to come out for stops at the Chamber of Commerce, at 10 a.m., and City Hall, 11:30 a.m. and is welcome to show Carter their support along the way (see map). 

"At the heart of Carter's wish is community,” said Make-A-Wish Northeastern/Central California/Northern Nevada president and CEO Karen Alvord. “He wants to clean up his community and be of service to it. On Monday, the community of Turlock will come together to grant this incredible wish. This will not only be a day Carter and his family will never forget, but also one the community won't soon forget."



Carter Gomes Make-A-Wish | Studio209

Carter Gomes, who was diagnosed with leukemia just before his third birthday, was granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish was to be a garbageman for a day. Sponsored By: City of Turlock Municipal Services
By: Frankie Tovar

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