ATLANTA, Georgia –
A family in Atlanta convinced their 8-year-old son to go along with faking cancer to get a free trip to Disneyland, say police.
The Marques family, including Mary and Lewis Marques, both 34, and their son, 8-year-old Henry, reportedly visited doctors for over 2 years in the Atlanta area, faking symptoms of severe sickness in hopes of getting a free trip to Florida through the Make-A-Wish foundation.
“The Marques family had a very sophisticated way of doing things, in that they would constantly research rare cancer types, visit a doctor in one area, then falsify medical records, and then visit doctors in another area, using the names and locations of the previous doctor,” said police detective Mario Ferreira. “It was all an extremely elaborate scheme. The amount of time they put into it was intense. At the center of it all, of course, was 8-year-old Henry.”
According to the family, the entire scam was Henry’s idea. He was watching an episode of the TV show House on cable, and asked his mother where they found all the sick people to be in the show. When they explained that everyone, including the children on the show, were all just pretending, Henry asked if he could pretend to be sick and get on TV.
“Henry would not stop hounding us about the kids pretending to be sick. Eventually, we relented, and told him that no, we probably couldn’t get him on TV, but we might be able to get him to meet Mickey and Goofy,” said Lewis Marques. “But he had to promise to never reveal his secret – that he was totally healthy.”
Unfortunately, the secret was revealed after the Make-A-Wish foundation was contacted, as the group often does their own medical check-ups on children. It was then they discovered that Henry was perfectly healthy.
“I’m really sorry for what I did, but I just wanted to be famous!” said Henry. “And then I found out I could meet Mickey, and that seemed so cool. I don’t have any cancers at all, but I do get a cold sometimes. Will that help me go to Disney?