Associate producer Lizette Castaneda worked on a SportsCenter: My Wish feature in 2008 as a co-producer. In 2012, she has taken on even greater responsibility for the annual summer series.
The eight-year ESPN veteran produced a pair of My Wish stories this season, highlighting wishes granted by two of the most popular athletes in sports: NBA Finals MVP LeBron James and New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
The James feature debuted July 15 as the Heat star hosted 17-year-old cancer survivor Thiago D’Elia for a shoot-around and home game in Miami.
The Sanchez story, the 2012 My Wish series finale, debuts today on the 3 p.m. ET SportsCenter as the Jets starting quarterback tosses the football with Jesus Reyes, a 14-year-old diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Castaneda discusses her involvement in the seventh annual SportsCenter: My Wish series:
How are these two wishes different from the others this year?
Although the LeBron James and Mark Sanchez segments will air on ESPN during the summer, both of the pieces were intended for the first edition of the ESPN Deportes series, Mi Deseo. The series will run during Hispanic Heritage Month, debuting Sept. 16. We’re proud to say this is the first time ESPN Deportes will have its own series, centered on Hispanic children and/or athletes.
What experiences as a co-producer helped you as the producer for two features this year?
I have been at ESPN for almost eight years now, five of which have been in Features, working primarily on content for ESPN Deportes and International. I’ve always had an inclination to do human interest stories, so naturally I wanted to work on the “My Wish” series. When my manager told me I would run point on the “Mi Deseo” series, I was ecstatic. From that moment forward, we began to coordinate and choose the children who would be in our four-part series. Thiago wished to meet LeBron James. We thought he would be hard to get. From a cold call I initiated with the Heat in December 2011, we received confirmation in April that LeBron wanted to participate in his first “My Wish/Mi Deseo.” With that in mind, we decided to create a cross-platform version. Jesus’ wish to meet Mark Sanchez was also a “Mi Deseo” original and in the past couple weeks was included in our ESPN series.
How was it working with two of the top athletes in their given professions?
Working with both athletes was a great experience, as they were very generous to the children. LeBron and Mark connected well with the boys, as well as their families. I can’t emphasize how special it is to see the smiles on these children’s faces and the tears of joy from the family members. It was truly a great experience for me and I am very appreciative to have had this opportunity.