A Dream Visit to SVU –by Elexa Nosonchuk

SVU is on a hiatus this week, but this story will make you love the show even more.  This guest post is by Elexa Nosonchuk, one of the biggest SVU fans on the planet.  She visited the set last year via the Dream Foundation.  Here is her inspiring story.  Thanks for sharing this with us, Elexa!  You made me laugh, cry, and … breathe.

elexa mariska breathe pic

 

I have a progressive lung disease that will eventually kill me. The only things that have kept me alive for the last 2 years are experimental treatments, including chemotherapy and steroids. They each have their own side effects which wreak havoc on my body. One of the few things left in my life that I’m able to enjoy is television, and my favorite show is Law & Order: SVU!! I love the show and the inspiring, encouraging message it gives. SVU reruns are constantly on TV and I never get tired of watching them! A few years back, when asked to figure out what one thing I would like as a life wish, it was an easy answer, and thanks to the amazing people at The Dream Foundation (an organization that gives dreams to adults with life threatening illnesses) I was given the opportunity to visit New York so I could go to the filming of the 300th episode of SVU and meet Mariska Hargitay and the cast! Mariska, the driving force behind the show’s message – that sexual assault and domestic violence are never ok – is the show’s star, and my favorite TV actress! When I asked to meet her, I thought I might get to say hi to her for a few minutes and experiencing the city would be the biggest part of my trip, but the people at Dream Foundation and SVU made it so much more!

It started with a private tour of the set at Chelsea Pier. The entire way into the building I was freaking out; I even took a picture of the floor of the elevator. I was able to see each part of the set and got to sit in the judge’s seat in the courtroom. I sat in the interrogation room and watched segments of the episode film. I had multiple moments where I freaked out because I was so excited about everything I was seeing! Every time I passed by one of the actors on set they would stop and take a picture with me and talk to me! Everyone was so extraordinarily nice!! I must have been beet red the entire visit. One of my favorite parts of the visit was meeting the puppies – the actors bring their dogs to work – and I am definitely a dog person!! After meeting most of the cast and crew, there was a little party with cake and photo opportunities for the 300th episode. I was allowed to take a picture with the cast in front of the cake, during which I’m glad I didn’t pass out! I met Dick Wolf, who I didn’t realize was going to be there. I told him all about how I have seen every episode and he indulged my star-struck, wide-eyed freak out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We started walking toward Mariska’s dressing room to see if I could finally get my meet and greet with my hero, and we ended up accidentally running into her as we turned a corner. I literally ran into her. I started giggling uncontrollably and doubled over because I couldn’t breathe (remember, I have bad lungs) and she asked, jokingly, if she needed to walk away so I could breathe again. Obviously, I said no!! We were able to sit and talk for a little while and it was so amazing. She wanted to know all about my disease and she took such a real interest, even tearing up multiple times. I was in total disbelief at how amazingly well the day was going. After hearing my story, Mariska got an idea and asked us to follow her to her dressing room. On her wall she had a frame with white paper in it which had the word “Breathe” drawn on it. She told me the story behind this drawing – she made it during an incident where she had a collapsed lung, and she hung it above her door so she could see it whenever she left her dressing room. She took it down, signed the back of it (ending with, “You are a badass. Never forget that”) and gave it to me. We both cried. She also gave me the ‘Fearlessness’ necklace that she was wearing!!! She wears it in every episode, and is a symbol of her Joyful Heart Foundation – and she gave it to ME!!! Again, we both cried. It was such a surreal feeling to be anywhere near her; I couldn’t believe how perfect the day was.

elexa mariska breathe

I was also able to bring the cast some bracelets that I had been selling that say “Just Breathe.” I was sure none of them would actually wear the bracelets, or that the bracelets would break too easily because they were just made of stretchy string, but I still watched every episode after that looking for the bracelet on one of their wrists. It took me about a year – I don’t know how I missed it the first time I saw the episode – but I finally caught a glimpse of my bracelet on Mariska’s wrist in the episode titled, “Vanity’s Bonfire” from 11/14/12 (have I mentioned how much I love Mariska?!). I haven’t noticed the bracelet on any other episode, but I may have just missed it. The last thing I left with my mark on it was a Dream Foundation hat that Kelli Giddish asked me to sign for her. I was so excited that she wanted my autograph, and she said she would wear the hat in her next marathon. I’m not sure if she ever did, but I hope so!!

Elexa Nosonchuk & Danny Pino

I don’t think it’s possible to explain what that trip meant to me. I’ve been trying not to ramble while I type this because I just want to say all of the incredible things that happened in my quick-talking, excited way that makes everyone tell me to calm down. I was invited back, but since I don’t live in New York, I’ll just have to cherish the memories I already have. Danny Pino has been awesome enough to keep in touch with me on Twitter. Every time I get a message from him it makes my stomach jump and I feel the excitement of being on the set all over again. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was way too excited to think straight. I don’t know if any of the SVU cast and crew remember that day for anything other than it being the 300th episode. I like to think someone other than Danny might remember me, but I understand that they meet fans all the time. I am so grateful for my trip and the memories I’ll always have! I wish I had a word to explain how excited I was all day, but no words exist.

Comments

  1. Great post, Elexa! I’m jealous of your visit (but not your chemo, yuck). Hope you’re hanging in there! Thanks for sharing this amazing visit with us!

  2. Kim MacCarron says:

    What a wonderfully inspiring and fun post, Elexa! Thanks for sharing it with us, Allison!
    Elexa, your visit sounds simply amazing, and I’m so glad you were able to make it such a personally fulfilling one. How nice that she gave you that picture and signed it. And how neat to see your bracelet on her wrist during one of the episodes. :-)
    Good luck to you, Elexa! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Great post, and I agree great show. I recently started watching so I’m excited by Netflix and being able to watch episodes back-to-back. Take care and God Bless.

  4. Hi Elexa :) I could feel your excitement as I read that incredible account and I’m 100% positive that you haven’t been forgotten by them. I had a chance to meet my musical heroes and when I received the picture from our meet and greet, I wrote at the top, “This moment in time was mostly mine, but it was a little bit yours too and that makes me smile.” I know you get that too. Your smile beamed everywhere in this post and I’m so happy Allison shared it with us all. Great big blessings to you and yours. :)

  5. Hello Elexa,

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful experience. I felt as I was there with you. My thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless you. M. Perez

  6. Elexa, Thanks for that moving story. Best wishes and fervent prayers for a full recovery.

  7. Binnie Syril Braunstein says:

    Elexa-

    I am awestruck by your bravery, courage and spirit. You epitomize the values and the themes portrayed in SVU, for sure. I am also hooked, and watch the prime time broadcasts as well as marathons whenever I can.

    I hop you get a chance to revisit the set. But even if you don’t, you have wonderful memories. And you made an impact on the cast and crew. And on me, reading your wonderful post. God bless you. I hope the treatments work for you, and that you’re able to fulfill all your dreams…

    Binnie Syril Braunstein, fellow travelelr

  8. That is a beautiful story. I have read about Mariska wearing that necklace so it is really lovely that she gave it to you along with the picture. I have also had a port like you have in the photo. Very best wishes to you for all you are facing. I have read that these actors are really nice people and that is part of why I really like this show, so it is really nice to hear that they treated you so well. I hope that you do have a chance to go back again.

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