A sunny day: South Jersey boy's dream comes true
The 11-year-old from Mullica Hill, battling an illness, got to be a guest meteorologist on the Weather Channel, fluently delivering a forecast.
Ryland Mishura was on the set of Weather Center Live with meteorologist Maria LaRosa.
She introduced the 11-year-old Gloucester County boy as her "very special guest."
Then the South Harrison Elementary School fifth grader, wearing a blue shirt, patterned tie, and a body mic, stepped up to the telestrator and began delivering the forecast of his dreams -- unrehearsed, without a script, and live from the Weather Channel studios in downtown Atlanta.
"We're going to see those showers coming in," Ryland said in the sort of strong, clear voice used by his hero, the Weather Channel's Jim Cantore. "From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. we're going to see those cloudy skies."
So began Ryland's April 12 midday forecast for Mullica Hill, where he lives with his parents, Rick and Jennifer, and his younger sister, Madison, 9. After the local report, he joined meteorologist Alex Wallace for an on-camera assessment of the national weather, as well.
The Mishuras were flown to Atlanta by Make-a-Wish New Jersey, which grants requests made by children who are in life-threatening medical situations.
Jennifer had sent an application to the New Jersey division of the national foundation last year; Ryland, who has a rare genetic disorder called isovaleric acidemia, dearly wanted to meet Cantore and deliver a forecast before a national audience.
"Watching Ryland give the forecast on TV was a very emotional and proud moment for my husband and me," says Jennifer, who called the experience "magical."
I, too, was impressed by the young man's on-camera poise, as well as his command of the subject. And so, it turns out, were the professionals at the Weather Channel.
"What we saw on air is all him … he's a natural," Melody Smalls, chief human resources and compliance officer, says via email.
"We were impressed by Ryland's knowledge of weather systems and weather overall," Smalls adds. "He even presented a resume for a meteorological position. It was truly impressive."
Says LaRosa: "He went to town! He was circling things [on the telestrator] that he was talking about. … He blew me away."
No wonder. The boy has been watching the Weather Channel daily since he was 7, and often narrates the forecast from his mother's smartphone in the style of a weather professional.
"If the weather is bad, Ryland is grabbing his coat and running outside," Jennifer says. "He then FaceTimes his friends and they discuss the storm."
In a brief interview from his home, Ryland tells me his Make-a-Wish experience was "amazing," particularly, the chance to have breakfast with Cantore.
"I told him he was so much fun to watch," Ryland says. "While we were eating, I gave him my resume and my letter."
In that letter, Ryland salutes the seemingly fearless meteorologist's zest for reporting live from the eye of the storm.
"The world loves you," Ryland wrote. "And so do I."
"We were elated watching him deliver the weather updates to America, and like everyone else, were wildly impressed with his knowledge," Tom Weatherall, president and CEO of Make-a-Wish New Jersey, said in a statement.
"We have always believed that wishes are limited only by a child's imagination."