To celebrate his hard-fought victory over cancer, Max Hinton, 7, of Clovis could have gone to Disneyland or Hawaii, had a shopping spree or met an athlete or rock star.
All way too tame. As a big fan of the explosive television show "MythBusters," Max wanted to blow something up.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation made his dream come true Sunday, when Max pushed a button wired to explosive charges that leveled the ConAgra buildings in Huron, Ohio. One section was 14 stories tall.
Video courtesy of Fox 8, Cleveland
"I had a great time," Max said after the brick buildings came down in two phases amidst billows of dust and chunks of debris, his grandfather, Phil Hinton, of Fresno related Monday as Max and his family were homeward bound.
"It was an amazing thing," Hinton said of Max's big blast, which Hinton saw replayed on the Internet. The story was picked up several media outlets, including the Daily Mail in London, where one reader said on the newspaper's website, "Good lad -- Houses of parliament need a little work if your interested?"
Hinton said Max became a fan of "MythBusters," whose cast often sets off explosions to either prove or debunk hypotheses, during a month-long stay in the University of California San Francisco hospital after a bone marrow transplant.
Max was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in April 2010. "The chance of survival was less than 20% and we were all prepared for the worst," Hinton said. In addition to the transplant, Max underwent six rounds of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and other treatments.
In May, Max was declared tumor- and cancer-free. "It's miraculous stuff," Hinton said.
But during the dark days right after Max's diagnosis, Make-A-Wish Foundation told his parents, Sam and Dawn Hinton, that he could have a wish granted. Although they appreciated the gift, "that's not something you'd wish for your child," Dawn Hinton said, because only seriously ill children get to make a wish.
The foundation found the company that would be imploding the ConAgra buildings and arranged for Max to push the button.
The mill closed in 2006, and the city of Huron now owns the property. The demolition makes way for a river-front revitalization project.
Granting Max's wish "was a wonderful thing," Dawn Hinton said. "It was really something he'd looked forward to," and the anticipation helped him through long and sometimes tedious treatments.
On Thursday, the Hintons and their children, Max; Wesley, 9; and Lyla, 4; flew to Ohio. On Friday, Max, who attends Fresno Christian School, talked to local schoolchildren about what he was going to do.
On Saturday, workers with Advanced Explosives Demolition let Max pack some sticks of dynamite into the building. A highlight for Max and Wesley was playing with the Huron bomb squad's robots, Hinton said.
Max was unruffled by the thunderous demolition, his mother said. He's a pretty unflappable boy, she said, but she could tell he thought it was cool. "He was like, 'Uh-huh, I did that.' "
During Max's illness, the family learned to enjoy each day to the fullest, his mother said -- especially a day that includes bringing down a building.
"He'll never forget it," Hinton said. "None of us will."