9-year-old Caleb’s love for animals is just as great as his sense of adventure.
As a sibling of a wish kid, Caleb knew a little bit about Make-A-Wish to begin with. After his brother Ethan, who also has cystic fibrosis, had his wish granted to have a travel trailer for family vacations, Caleb thought about how much they enjoyed being on the road together and considered two things for his wish – to be a zookeeper and to travel to Walt Disney World.
He was very excited when he found out he could do both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
“I really want to be a zookeeper when I grow up,” said Caleb, who loved planning out the things he hoped to do on his wish trip.
“Of course I was looking forward to meeting the trainers and seeing the animals, but also taking a trip to the beach, eating lots of good food and going on big roller coasters!”
But even with his to-do list, there were still some fun surprises in the works that Caleb did not have in his plans.
When Caleb’s wish day arrived, the Make-A-Wish limo pulled up in his family’s driveway to take them to the airport!
“It was such a great surprise,” said Caleb’s mom, Melissa. “We weren’t sure if traveling would be more difficult because of Caleb and Ethan’s medical needs, but everyone went above and beyond to make his wish an amazing experience and it meant so much.”
“Give Kids the World completely spoiled us,” she continued. “They had unlimited ice cream for the kids and if something they wanted wasn’t gluten-free, the chef would actually make a fresh batch just for Caleb.”
And his family received the same VIP treatment at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
On his day as a zookeeper, Caleb learned how to take care of animals like cows in their enclosures and enjoyed talking with different trainers about their jobs, listening to any advice they could give him about his future career.
“They told me the biggest thing I need to practice is picking up my dogs’ poop,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe when I become a zookeeper, my mom could do that part and I could just do the other stuff.”
Caleb also loved the African safari ride, where he saw plenty of new and exotic animals like a flying fox bat.
“It has wings that feel like eyeballs!” he said. “But I didn’t have a favorite animal, I like them all.”
During the other days of Caleb’s wish trip, his family spent time at all four Walt Disney World theme parks, as well as SeaWorld and Universal Studios.
“My wish was more fun than I could have ever imagined!” said Caleb, who rode every single roller coaster with his dad, Josh. “We had special passes that let me go in the front row of any ride I wanted!”
“The boys were so blown away by this trip. On our first day of adventures, they said that if this was all the wish was, it would have been amazing enough!” said Melissa. “After each adventure, it seemed like everything we did was awesome and we could go home right then and be thoroughly happy.”
Now back from the wish experience, Caleb and Ethan are responsible for taking care of their two dogs, Sedona Leilani and Jackson Kekoa. Both brothers are interested in doing something with animals one day and Caleb’s dream of becoming a zookeeper is still going strong… with some exceptions.
“I hope to work with Ethan when I grow up and I still really want to be a zookeeper, just as long as I don’t have to pick up for the elephants,” he said. “That’s a lot of poop.”