AUSTIN, Tex. – International children’s charity Kids Wish Network announced today that, thanks to the University of Texas Longhorns and generous sponsors, a Texas boy’s fondest dream has come true. Mikal Gasch attended a Longhorns practice session, met the coaches and the team, and attended his first Longhorns game. Kids Wish Network is an international charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations.
“It is through the generous support of donors and organizations like the University of Texas that we are able to grant the wishes of thousands of children each year,” said Anna Lanzatella, Executive Director of Kids Wish Network. “Their kind generosity is humbling and we cannot thank them enough for helping us turn so many dreams into realities.”
Mikal was born with spina bifida, a neural tube defect which can cause paralysis in the legs. Later on, he was also diagnosed with having hydrocephalus – a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull – and Chiari malformation, which affects balance. Mikal has endured 20 surgeries to correct the issues associated with these conditions. Most recently, he had a shunt implanted in his spine to help with a cyst that formed in his spine. This has to be monitored very closely by doctors, as the shunt’s location is very close to Mikal’s brain stem.
After his first round of surgeries at the age of 6, Mikal was recovering in the hospital when he met some football players from the University of Texas, who were there to cheer the children in residence. Those players really made an impression on Mikal, and he’s been a huge fan of the University of Texas ever since; when he was given the chance to choose a wish to be granted by Kids Wish Network, it came as no surprise that he asked to meet his favorite college football team.
Kids Wish Network worked with the University of Texas and arranged an all expenses paid trip to Austin for Mikal and his family that included accommodations and attractions, in addition to meeting the Longhorns in person.
“The wish was unbelievable,” said Mikal’s mother, Sonja Gasch. “They all went above and beyond in making him [Mikal] feel special.”
Mikal and his family arrived at the Longhorns’ practice facility in style with a limousine from Uptown Valet & Transportation. Coaches Marcus Tubbs and Ken Rucker immediately took to Mikal and gave him a VIP tour and even took him out on the field to watch the practice session. During practice, Mikal was introduced to more of the UT coaching staff and the players before heading in to have dinner with the whole team. Mikal was also given a gift bag with a personalized Longhorns jersey, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap.
On Saturday, Mikal and his family attended the Longhorns vs. Iowa State game were given sideline seats. After Texas’ big win, Mikal was taken back to the locker room to be presented with a game ball before witnessing one of head coach Mack Brown’s legendary post-game speeches. For Mikal, it was a dream-come-true.
“He feels like this was the best weekend of his whole life,” said Sonja. “He’ll never, ever forget it, and neither will we. Thank you so much.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for making Mikal’s all expenses paid trip and wish so spectacular: the University of Texas Longhorns football team, Hampton Inn & Suites Austin – Downtown Convention Center Hotel, the Texas Military Museum – Camp Mabry, and Uptown Valet & Transportation.