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|I've accepted the Trailblaze Challenge! I’m training to hike 26.3 miles and also raising money to grant wishes for 300 children currently waiting on a wish. Here is our family's personal experience with Make-A-Wish...|
This is Bryce. My 6 year old son. In December 2016, Bryce was diagnosed with DIPG- or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. An inoperable brain tumor that is embedded within the brain stem, the part of your brain that controls many vital functions. We were given the devastating news that on average children diagnosed with this type of cancer will live 9 months from the date of diagnosis. Bryce died December 14th, 2017 after a courageous year-long battle. But I’m not going to focus on all the struggles and the hard times. I want to share with you some of the best memories I will ever have with Bryce, his two brothers, and my wife.
Last spring, following his six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Children’s Hospital let us know that Bryce was submitted to Make-A-Wish for wish consideration, and for Bryce to start coming up with ideas of what he wanted. Being the passionate and obsessive Denver Broncos fan that just watched them win Super Bowl 50 the previous season, Bryce colored pictures that only had to do with the Broncos- Mile High Stadium, Von Miller, playing football. That’s all he wanted. Basically 1 wish- to play football on a real football field with his family (since that’s what we did almost daily in our front yard). And if we met some players, that’d be cool too.
We were very grateful and hopeful that this would come through, especially in the short time window that we had. Because of his diagnosis, Bryce’s wish request was expedited and approved.
So in early June, we boarded a plane and were off to Denver. Make-A-Wish Colorado volunteers met us at baggage claim and got us a rental car. We were given room reservations (a two-room suite) at the Ritz in downtown Denver, somewhere we would never be able to afford. Let me tell you, this room was decked out in blue and orange Broncos decorations too… balloons, streamers, signs, cookies, candy, the works. The boys were shocked and bouncing off the walls.
The next day was Bryce’s Wish Day. Limo service picked us up and drove us the 30 minutes to the Broncos training facility, where the fun truly began. Upon arrival, we met up with Make-A-Wish Colorado and Denver Broncos representatives and were given a private tour of the facility. From trying on Derek Wolfe’s sandals in the locker room, to sitting in the team room where players meet and review film, to the press room where Manning and others stood and answered questions… we were in a whole other world. Bryce even signed a contract as an unrestricted free agent, becoming a member of the team. I mean, how cool is that? From there, we went outside to watch the final minutes of practice on the sideline. And that’s when Bryce got to go out on that field and meet not just Von Miller, but the entire Denver Broncos team. Something kids only dream about. After we all spent 30 or 45 minutes with them, playing football and running around, the players had to go and we got the chance to fulfill his true wish- we played football on a real football field, just the 5 of us.
That’s the beauty of Make-A-Wish and these Wish Trips.
We didn’t have to worry about hotels, rental cars, airfare, planning anything, finances… you name it, Make-A-Wish took very good care of us. But most of all, for those few days we didn’t have to worry and think about chemo and radiation treatments, needles, medicines, hospitals… tumors, cancer, his prognosis. We were given a much needed break, an escape, from what our life had become. We were given the opportunity to be together, to smile, laugh, and create memories that will truly last a lifetime.
I believe that there are two things that Bryce was a part of last year that encouraged him to stay positive, energized him, and really enabled him to live 3 months beyond what was expected. One was being a member of the local high school baseball team after their coach reached out to us. The other was his Wish Trip. It brought pure joy to him and brightened his life. And it showed us some good in a time when the world was being so cruel, something that we are still fighting through now, but it’s these memories that help us keep perspective and hope. These wishes aren’t just for the wish kid. They may be focused on them, but they are for the entire family. Tyler, Carson, Suzy, and I have memories, videos, pictures, and mementos that we cherish because of Make-A-Wish. Words will never be able to express our true gratitude for this organization and the people that make dreams come true for so many children.
There’s a quote that I came across recently that seems fitting in many facets of life, but especially now more than ever as I look forward to taking part in this Trailblaze Challenge. It says “When you feel like quitting, when you think about giving up, just remember why you started in the first place.” Bryce is my 1st reason. And there are countless other reasons out there that I will be hiking for in May.
Please help grant other kids their wish and create memories for their families that will be cherished forever. Thank you for your support!
Link to video of Bryce's Wish Trip- https://youtu.be/zKmpvm4Q8jE