Dewitt, NE – 11-year-old William of Dewitt has already been through a great deal in his young life. Diagnosed with a Choroid Plexus Papilloma brain tumor when he was just a baby, William underwent surgery to have it removed. Troubles with his health, however, didn’t end there. William also battles a condition known as hydrocephalus, which causes excess fluid to build up around the brain. This fluid must be drained via a shunt, which is surgically implanted into the patient. William has had multiple shunt revisions throughout his life, enduring nearly 20 very serious surgeries. He has also had cranial synostosis surgery to enlarge his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. In addition, William has suffered from kidney failure and a partially collapsed lung.
Recently, this extraordinarily courageous boy enjoyed a very special break away from his worries for a while thanks to Kids Wish Network, an organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
A social worker at the hospital where William receives treatment referred his parents, Jan and Doug, to the charity in hopes that he would qualify for a wish. Jan and Doug completed Kids Wish Network’s application process and were later thrilled to learn that their brave son had indeed been approved. William didn’t hesitate when he was asked for his number one wish: he wanted to go to Hawaii!
Kids Wish Network wish coordinator, Madeline, immediately began the arrangements to make this incredible boy’s dream come true. She not only secured airline tickets to Honolulu, she also booked hotel accommodations, made dinner reservations for the family at area restaurants, arranged for fun activities on the island, spending money and more. It would truly be a trip this special kid will never forget.
During their stay in Hawaii, William and his family stayed at the beautiful Sheraton Waikiki Hotel in a gorgeous suite overlooking the sparkling Pacific. “The hotel was fantastic,” said Doug. However, with an itinerary full of things to do, William would spend little time there.
One of the many stops on his busy itinerary included a visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Doug said it was an incredibly moving experience. During the afternoon they spent there, William met a veteran named Al who had survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. Al showed William around and then sat with him and his family as they watched a film documenting Pearl Harbor and the Memorial. Later, the group headed out to the U.S.S. Arizona for a private tour. “It was a really special tour,” said Doug.
Another afternoon, William and his family were treated to a whale watching cruise aboard the Makani Catamaran. “That was neat,” laughed Doug who noted that William did catch a thrilling glimpse of a whale and her calf alongside the boat. “She splashed for us,” he said of the mother whale. “And then she was gone.” Later, the group was lucky enough to see the baby whale jump clear out of the water vertically. That was a sight!
The group also headed out to the other side of the island for a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center. During his visit to the center, William learned all about the traditions of the Polynesian culture.
When William wasn’t busy exploring the island and checking out all of the activities that Madeline had planned for him, he was enjoying the beach! Doug said his young son had a blast soaking up the rays and splashing in the ocean. “We spent a couple of hours every day at the beach. William loved playing in the sand and building things.”
Doug said the entire experience meant the world to William and the whole family. “It was more than we could have ever imagined. It was definitely something our family will never forget.” He was also incredibly grateful to Madeline and Kids Wish Network. “We’re very thankful for the ability to do this. It meant a lot to us and a lot to William!”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make William’s wish extra special: Alamo, Dixie Grill, Embassy Suites Omaha Downtown, Makani Catamaran, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Perry Smorgy Restaurant, Sheraton Waikiki, and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org