HESPERIA Jaden Guiterrez has had leukemia for half of his short life.


Jaden, 6, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was three and has been in therapy ever since. His treatment is demanding enough that he's had to be homeschooled and hasn't had all of the opportunities other kids his age have had.


The oncology staff at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center felt Jaden was missing out, and contacted the Los Angeles branch of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Representatives interviewed Jaden and asked what he'd like to do. After encouraging him to think beyond a shopping spree at Target, they settled on a loftier goal: Jaden wanted to meet his favorite football player, Philadelphia Eagle Michael Vick.


"He's a good quarterback," Jaden said Thursday.


Jaden's entire family of five bundled into a limousine on Dec. 16 and was bundled off to LA/Ontario International Airport.


"It was all of our first time on an airplane," his father, Sal Guiterrez, said.


"It was fun," Jaden said.


The family met Vick at Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 17 and the quarterback took them on a shopping spree not at Target, but at the Eagles pro store.


"He was a really great guy, down to earth and made us feel comfortable," Sal Guiterrez said.


On Dec. 18, the family attended the Eagles' game. They started out on the field during the National Anthem and while the players ran out, then moved to their seats about 30 rows up, where Jaden was able to watch Vick lead the Eagles to trounce the New York Giants, 45-19.


Jaden has something more to look forward to in 2012: His cancer is in remission and he has about three months more of treatment left before he can attend first grade with other students for the first time at Mesquite Trails Elementary School.


"He's a strong kid," his mother Kim Guiterrez said.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com.