Press Release

Kids Wish Network Celebrates Courageous 11-year-old Pennsylvania Boy as Hero of the Year

Holiday, FL. (March 2017) Children’s charity Kids Wish Network is excited to celebrate 11-year-old Takoda Burk of Shriners Hospital for Children in Erie, PA, as the Hero of the Year. Takoda was first honored as a Hero of the Month in July 2016 as part of Kids Wish Network’s program to recognize children who may not suffer from a life-threatening illness, but have overcome life-altering circumstances.

Last year Takoda was walking down train tracks in his hometown with his seven year old neighbor, when he noticed that his neighbor was not getting off the tracks and a train was fast approaching. According to Takoda, “My friend wasn’t getting off the tracks, so I pushed him out of the way and I got hit by the train, and it hit my leg.” Following the accident, he received a right lower leg amputation and 12 surgeries to accommodate a prosthesis. He now wears a prosthesis on his right leg and a big smile on his face.

Despite his medical struggles, Takoda’s incredible attitude and positive spirit caught the eye of staff members at the hospital where he was being treated, and he was nominated as a Hero by Shriners Hospital for Children in Erie, PA which also hosted the big celebration, and has been participating in the Hero of the Month program for over three years.

During the Hero of the Year celebration, Takoda was presented with his award at a party in his honor. It was a true Hero’s celebration with all of his favorites including pizza, ice cream, and root beer. Takoda was even signing autographs for his fans.

Erie Shriners Hospital for Children’s case manager, Melissa Howard, who attended Takoda’s Hero of the Year celebration, said, “I was so impressed he was doing and how he was looking out for other people in the waiting room, not really overly concerned about himself.”

According to Micheal Widrig Public and Donor Relations Specialist at Shriners Hospital for Children in Erie, PA, “We had an awesome party! It was really special for Takoda and his family, as well as our staff to be able to honor such a kind and thoughtful kid. Being the Kids Wish Network Hero of the Year facility was really a lot of fun. The Kids Wish Network organization is so generous and definitely goes above and beyond to make these kids realize how special they are and to make a positive impact on their lives.”

Takoda’s mother Mellissa Howard couldn’t help but smile as she talked about her Hero of the Year son. “Takoda is a very kind little boy. I am very proud of him, where is he is at today, the choices he has made, and the things he does,” she said.

The Hero of the Month program recognizes children between the ages of 3 and 18 who have faced and overcome difficult circumstances, often enduring a great deal of pain and suffering. Heroes are nominated by staff at participating facilities; Kids Wish Network works with over 125 facilities across the United States. Please visit for more information about the program or to see if your facility qualifies.

Kids Wish Network is a national charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Visit to learn more and find out how you can help makes dreams come true and sponsor a wish for a deserving child.