By Robert Howard, Wish Dad
It all started on a fateful day in March 2010. My son, Kenny, was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia, a blood disease that could be life threatening if not taken care of. The family was devastated that this typical 4 year old boy had been diagnosed with something that could potentially alter his future.
Not knowing what to expect with this disease, and honestly not knowing what it really was or how severe it could be, the doctors reassured us that it was treatable and, if the treatments were successful, he would live a normal and healthy life. At the same time, they mentioned to us that, since this was considered a life-threatening disease, he would be eligible for a wish from Make-A-Wish.
When we were told this, I never truly thought that was the case because I had been under the impression that Make-A-Wish was for children with life threatening conditions like leukemia or cancer. I guess I didn’t put it into perspective that his condition was truly something that would make him Make-A-Wish eligible.
I took the doctor’s advice and contacted the Make-A-Wish office and nominated Kenny for a wish based on that recommendation. To my surprise, they contacted me within a few days and told the family, not just Kenny, that he was eligible for a wish. All of a sudden, we became part of the Make-A-Wish family.
Kenny’s wish was to train to be a Jedi and Make-A-Wish sent the family to Orlando where Kenny visited several of the theme parks and, to make his wish come true, he actually got to fight Darth Vader!! The excitement on his face at that moment is something that will always be emblazoned on my brain.
More importantly, the time the family spent together for that week is something that we will never forget. Kenny’s wish was granted to him, but it’s really a family getaway from the harsh reality of the toll that these conditions take on a family. It was exciting to see other families from all over the world enjoying their time away too. We actually met a Wish family from Ohio that we keep in contact with to this day. It’s nice to have a friend that is going through the same type of situation that you can lean on.
Since we came back from Kenny’s wish trip, we have been involved in many fundraising events so that other kids can have their wishes granted, he was on the Make-A-Wish calendar, and was also the honorary Wish Kid for the 2012 Tiffany Heitkamp Walk for Wishes. Our hope was to try and give back to Make-A-Wish as a way of saying thanks for all they did. From the first time they told us that Kenny was eligible for his wish, they became part of our extended family and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Kenny’s star hangs on the wall at the Make-A-Wish office…one small star in the Make-A-Wish galaxy.