Guest Blog: Michael Carden`s Father
I want to thank Kids Wish Network for helping my son’s dreams come true. Between the hard work and dedication of KWN my son’s experience was a blessing and a wish come true. From the start, KWN listened to my son’s desires and certain disabilities. KWN found the best way to change fear and anxiety to happiness. Joy is something my son hasn’t felt for a very long time.
When my son was 5 years old, we noticed that he wasn’t his normal happy self. He was complaining about pain, couldn’t keep food down, and was getting pale. We tried what we thought was the best option by going to the pediatrician multiple times just to be told my son needs to eat better and drink PediaSure to help with his nutrition. The pediatrician didn’t do any blood work and just ordered generic antibiotics in-case of infection.
My son seemed to be getting better and after a short time things turned for the worst. My son wasn’t doing much besides laying on the couch and sleeping a lot. His skin was getting very pale and blotchy and not getting better. At that time, we brought him to the emergency room to get some answers to our questions. He was admitted into the hospital and was seen by many doctors and specialists. After a couple of days in the hospital, we were told by one of the specialists that they were afraid my son would be taking his last breath. They kept alternating antibiotics through his IV along with many blood tests and finally we got the answers we were waiting for. The specialist came in and explained to us that our son has Crohn’s disease. We were dumbfounded and trying to figure out how this happened. They explained that there are many levels of Crohn’s disease from the basic to extreme. Based on the Specialist my son is part of the 2% on the extreme side.
This disease, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult diseases due to the fact there is not a cure. Because of KWN and their sponsors, my son was able to forget about his disease and felt like a King. A day before my son was supposed to go on his wish, he got really sick. I contacted KWN to see if we can reschedule the wish and they were able to make the changes for us. One of the best things of the wish was to be able to meet Kyle Busch in person. KWN after rescheduling the wish explained that they were able to get everything basically the same except to be able to see Kyle Busch. My son was heartbroken but understood his racing schedule and how busy he is. We received our packet with the itinerary, an expense check, tickets, and a gift card to “The Capital Grille”.
We arrived in Charlotte, NC to our first place on the itinerary being Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), where we were supposed to have met Kyle Busch, and my son was welcomed with open arms. They gave us a full tour of the facility and my son was in his zone. He absolutely loves cars and is fascinated by all aspects of them. I think the first day was too much for him because he got really weak and turned pale again. At the end of the tour, my son received a huge surprise from KBM. Everyone who was in the facility gathered behind my son and took a picture of the entire group. After we left KBM we went to the hotel so my son could rest. We went to the front desk and checked in. We found our room and what came next was absolutely amazing.
Westin Charlotte Hotel decorated our suite with movie cars decorations. I was in complete amazement and my son smiled and said “OMG”. He loved the room and looked at everything. I honestly never expected this to happen. I sent a text message to KWN explaining everything that has happened with my son, KBM, and the hotel. We were supposed to have went to Longhorn Steakhouse that night but with my son not feeling well, we were able to get the reservation changed and enjoyed room service meant for royalty. If you go to the Westin Charlotte Hotel please don’t order too much. You will never finish it.
The next morning after a good night’s rest, we went to Carolinas Aviation Museum sponsored by the Smithsonian. On the outside it doesn’t look like much, but wow when you get inside this place is huge. We went to the front desk and told them we were with KWN. She smiled and mentioned she has a small gift for my son. She gave us a $25 gift card and told us to have fun. My son was amazed by the whole place and the biggest surprise was in front of his eyes – seeing the actual airline of the Hudson Miracle. After about 2 hours, my son joined a class building a replica of the Wright Flyer with tooth picks and Styrofoam. The class was really cool and the staff there was very helpful and brought an exciting aspect to flight.
After the Carolina Aviation Museum, we went to the Sea Life Aquarium for a self-look around through the aquarium at all the sea life and tanks. This was a nice place to visit with friendly staff. What surprised me was seeing an aquarium in a mall. The manager offered us a behind the scene tour but my son again wasn’t feeling well and started hurting again so we had to cut our day short. We went to Longhorn Steakhouse and wow was this place was elegant. We met up with the manager Mike and he went way and beyond to make sure our dinner stay was perfect. The staff there was really nice and the food was, hard to say, better then Texas Roadhouse. The manager and assistant manager was super nice and treated my son welcomed with warmth and allowed us to take a picture with them. After a dinner to remember we went back to our hotel and rested for the night.
The next morning was the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This place was huge with a lot of interactive events. Being so close to the hotel we just walked there and that was a huge mistake being so hot. We went to the ticket booth and presented our complimentary tickets and the staff there was very helpful. Even though my son was in his wheelchair, he enjoyed his time there. We were able to see all the exhibits and used the elevator to get to the multiple floors they have. The layout of the NASCAR Hall of Fame was amazing and for any NASCAR enthusiasts you can easily spend a couple of hours or all day to enjoy the place. I knew we couldn’t stay the whole day since we had the Levine Museum of New South to go to. I put it in my GPS and tried to walk to the museum but I think my phone was confused and we ended up in the monorail station. We never did get a chance to go to the Levine Museum so we walked back to the hotel and wanted to try and get there later. Unfortunately, they closed at 5 that day so we never did get to go. We went back to the hotel and ordered Pizza Hut and enjoyed dinner in the hotel room with air conditioning.
The next morning was our last day in Charlotte so we checked out of the hotel knowing that we are heading back home with a heavy heart. We headed to Joe Gibbs Racing which was our last visit on our itinerary. We were welcomed by everyone including a special visit with Joe Gibbs in person. Meeting “Coach”, a legend, was a real treat. Everyone there was really nice and gave us a full tour of the facility. My son was able to see all the vehicles including the ones that were just on the race track. JGR is a very unique place since they have multiple areas from the beginning to the final construction of what we see on the tracks. I never knew of everything that went into a race car until that day. My son, for the first time, was able to see a live pit stop practice run in the back of the facility and of course he was closing his ears. I guess you can say it’s a little loud back there. After that, we headed to the conference room to see another of many trophies. I had my son stand by the trophy to take a picture and we heard a voice in the background saying that he remembers winning the trophy. Kyle Busch in person made a special point to see my son. My son was speechless in every way with the biggest smile I have ever seen on him. None of us expected this special visit especially after finding out that he wasn’t going to be there. Even KWN was surprised when I told them who came by.
When you have a child who cries daily with fear and pain knowing that they have to fight daily to try to live a child’s life, Kids Wish Network truly makes dreams comes true. I want to thank KWN and all the sponsors for bringing smiles and hopes to a hard life. I know they certainly brought a dream come true for my son, and I know they will do the same for your child.