Matt About Town: Meet Md. Make-A-Wish teen with inspiring journey of competing on the soccer field and against leukemia

Soccer community rallies around Md. Make-A-Wish teen in battle with cancer

Throughout the month of April, WTOP is highlighting our partnership with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Operation Dream Maker, which raises money to fulfill the wishes of the children of our nation’s military heroes diagnosed with critical illnesses.

Last year, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic granted 386 wishes in the D.C. area, and this year, with your help, leaders at the organization say they hope to grant even more.

The nonprofit said around a third of the kids who get wishes in the region each year are those with parents or guardians who are serving or have served in the military.

In today’s episode of “Matt About Town,” WTOP’s Matt Kaufax met 13-year-old Leanna from Pasadena, Maryland. Her journey fighting cancer and her experience meeting the U.S. women’s national soccer team as part of her wish will move and inspire you.

Through all the ups and downs, Leanna and her family said they never gave up. And Leanna never lost her competitive edge.

It’s a tough mentality she forged through her own connection playing soccer. As Matt also found, Leanna’s teammates are like adopted sisters in her family and during the toughest parts of her treatment, they were there for it all.

Every year on April 29, World Wish Day celebrates the anniversary of the founding of Make-A-Wish. April is also both the Month of the Military Child and World Wish Month!

To find more stories like Leanna’s, meet other Wish Kids of the D.C. area and learn how you can give back to the worthy cause of turning a child’s dream into reality, you can visit

“Matt About Town” airs every Tuesday and Thursday on WTOP at 7:45 a.m., and runs throughout the rest of the day on 103.5 FM. His video pieces are always posted on

You can also find Matt’s videos on Instagram (@wtopnews and @mkaufax) and TikTok (@wtopnews and @mattabouttown_).

If you’ve got an idea for a feature story Matt should cover, reach out via the WTOP “contact us” page to submit your idea.

You can also contact Matt directly. His contact information is listed below. 

Check out more of “Matt About Town” on WTOP.

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Matt Kaufax

If there's an off-the-beaten-path type of attraction, person, or phenomenon in the DC area that you think more people should know about, Matt is your guy. As the features reporter for WTOP, he's always on the hunt for stories that provide a unique local flavor—a slice of life if you will.

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