Carson loves to travel and be outside, but when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his personality started to match his surroundings. His lightness and laughter fell flat under his new surroundings of fluorescent lights and hospital walls.
“Watching him go through treatment was very hard,” said Heather, Carson’s mom. “The first time we were told Carson was eligible for a wish I panicked because you think ‘he’s not going to make it.’ But once it was explained to me that you don’t need to have a terminal illness to get a wish, I was so excited because a wish could cheer Carson up and be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him.”
With the possibility to travel anywhere in the world, Carson considered all options. He ultimately chose New Zealand, a destination reflecting all kinds of climates and landscapes, from the rainforest to the tundra.
“New Zealand was where one of my favorite movies, Lord of the Rings, was filmed and I love that series,” said Carson. “I heard that New Zealand was spectacular and since it’s on the other side of the world I thought I’d never be able to see it, so I chose to travel there for my wish.”
Carson and his mom enjoyed researching the excursions they wanted to do, including the fan-favorite “Hobbiton” from Lord of the Rings.
“The wish helped him look forward to something and gave him a way to take his illness off his mind,” said Heather. “I saw Carson struggle so much during treatment and finally he could get the chance to travel again and just be a normal kid.”
For Carson, the breathtaking scenery was truly the reward. He and his mother stayed in a rainforest in a jungle hut on stilts, drove through the countryside where they spotted local wildlife and rode in a helicopter over the snowy trees and mountaintops.
“It was amazing. There were sheer cliffs right next to the water with waterfalls and rivers running through and soaring over the glaciers in a helicopter was something I never thought I would do. It’s something I will remember forever,” Carson said.
Carson re-connected with nature throughout his wish trip – something his mom noticed almost as soon as they started.
“Watching Carson’s face was worth a million dollars,” said Heather. “We climbed onto the ice and the whole experience of being up there and watching Carson explore and smile was magnificent.”
“It was almost like closure after everything that he’s been through,” she continued. “Having a cancer diagnosis can really destroy you, but Carson has a renewed hope and sense that everything is going to be okay. He came back from his wish refreshed and ready to get back to experiencing life again, and I think when you’re outside and surrounded by nature in this way, it helps you realize how much bigger life truly is.”