By Dan Kosick, Wish Kid and former MAWCNY Board Member
At 15, immediately following my sophomore football season, I had an unusual pain in my ankle that got diagnosed as a cancerous tumor. My best bet was to have my right leg amputated above the knee and go through precautionary chemotherapy. During my chemotherapy treatments I was visited by Make-A-Wish volunteers and eventually granted a wish.
My wish experience was spending an entire week with my favorite football team the Washington Redskins during their off-season training camp and then having the opportunity to attend a Monday Night football game between the Redskins and Buffalo Bills with field passes for me and my guests. During my wish, I experienced some of my favorite professional athletes taking interest in me, my story and informing me that I was an inspiration to them. This experience changed my whole outlook on who I was as a cancer survivor and amputee. Knowing I was an inspiration to my favorite professional athletes gave me confidence to continue to be an athlete and inspiration to others. After getting my first prosthetic leg I learned how to walk and eventually run.
I rejoined my high school swim team. I became our starting varsity lacrosse goalie. I got into alpine ski racing and, at 18, I became a member of the U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team. I competed in the 1998 Japan and 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Paralympics and have represented my country all over the world, becoming one of the top five disabled male ski racers in my class.
Today, I am 37 years old. I’m a school social worker who married his high school sweet heart. I continue to coach high school lacrosse and participate in events such as the Tough Mudder. Being a disabled athlete allows me to push my personal limits and show my two daughters what their dad, a cancer survivor and amputee, can do. Make-A-Wish allowed me to recognize myself as not someone who has a life threatening illness, which I already knew but as someone who has his own story to tell.
It was the power of my wish that initially gave me and my family respite and joy during a time of difficulty but eventually it gave me so much more because it helped me recognize that wish kids have strength and are inspirational. As a result, my life has been filled with many successes. Thank you Make-A-Wish for a gift that never stopped giving.
Editor’s Note: Check out this powerful video created by Tough Mudder featuring Dan Kosick.