If magical powers were real and 8-year-old Joey "Peanut" Benton had them, he said he probably would just float around for fun.
Joey knows that isn't possible, but he always has wanted to meet Criss Angel, his favorite magician. Joey who has cystic fibrosis, a disease that he says makes it hard to breathe and stay healthy will have that wish granted thanks to Make a Wish Foundation of South Carolina and Motley Rice, a Mount Pleasant plaintiffs law firm.
Motley Rice employees told Joey during a Make-A-Wish party Friday that his wish would be granted.
The firm's charity committee gave $5,000 toward the trip to Las Vegas, and employees raised an additional $700 by paying $5 to wear their favorite flip-flops to work Friday for $5 for Flops Day.
Michael Elsner, a partner in the law firm and chairman of the charity committee, presented Joey a large ticket to Las Vegas after local magician VanDoren put on a show for Joey, his family and Motley Rice employees.
"He's a compelling little boy and outspoken in his fight for his cause," Elsner said.
Joey has gone to Washington, D.C., to advocate for health care reform and regularly appears in public relations campaigns for MUSC Children's Hospital. His image has been used in a billboard beside Interstate 26 promoting the hospital's license plate campaign.
Carmen Scott, a partner in the law firm and a member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Carolina board, said the firm typically helps people through its work representing plaintiffs but also wanted to help someone in the community.
The firm builds charitable giving into its annual budget, Elsner said, and has helped Make-A-Wish for several years.
This year, the firm wanted to grant a wish where the employees could be part of the fun, and Joey's wish to meet Angel already was in the works, Scott said.
Joey said he likes Angel because of the tricks he does, and the Summerville boy said he has seen every episode of Angel's A&E series, "MindFreak."
"He does really good tricks, and he never says that he has magical powers," Joey said on why he prefers the magician.
Joey's parents, Caroline and Joe Benton, learned something was wrong when Joey was just 6 weeks old. He wasn't gaining weight and was sent to a children's hospital in Wake Forest, N.C., where he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a life-shortening genetic disease that makes it hard for Joey to breathe. The Bentons moved to Summerville in 2006 to be closer to Joe Benton's family. Caroline Benton works at Blackbaud, and Joe Benton, inspired by his son's disease, is studying to become a physician's assistant.
Joey seemed as healthy as any other child, running through restaurant space on the bottom level of Motley Rice's office building stopping to cough just twice. Caroline Benton said Joey starts his day by wearing a shaking vest for 30 minutes to break up the thick mucus in his lungs and takes a number of medications through multiple inhalers.
He also takes enzymes with every meal so that his body can absorb the nutrients from food.
The mucus traps bacteria inside his lungs, and when Joey gets sick, he must be hospitalized, often disrupting family plans. But Caroline Benton said she hopes they will be able to fly to Las Vegas late this summer.
Reach Jessica Miller at 937-5921.