For 13-year-old Ilyas, LEGO building is more than just a hobby, it’s his passion. And it all started because of his dad.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing with LEGOs when I was a kid, so one day I decided to get some for Ilyas,” said his dad, Ali. “He was just 5 years old at the time but I could tell he really enjoyed them and he kept getting more and more into building the sets.”
“Now he’s really good and it’s become something we do together as a family.”
But not everything comes as easily as LEGOs to Ilyas, who developed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy around a year after he was born.
“Ilyas has a cardio defibrillator/pacemaker and his heart condition limits him from doing certain activities; but the scariest part is not knowing when something may happen,” said Ali, who was in the backyard when Ilyas had a heart attack a few years ago.
“There were no warning signs. All of a sudden, he started to turn blue and needed to be shocked back to life,” Ali continued. “Ilyas needed surgery and was in the ICU for weeks, but he’s lucky to be alive.”
While Ilyas has grown healthier as he’s gotten older, there is still no cure for his condition. Hearing the news that he could qualify for a wish, Ilyas was thrilled.
“Growing up as a kid with a heart disease I felt different and I couldn’t always do as much as other people, but my wish was something that was going to be really special and just for me,” said Ilyas. “Now I was going to get to do something other kids don’t because of my heart.”
“I spent a lot of time thinking about my passion and then I wished to visit to the original LEGO Factory!”
It wasn’t long before Ilyas and his family were on their way to the LEGO headquarters, located in Denmark. Once they arrived, they spent an entire day touring the factory and another day learning about LEGOS in the design studio.
"We saw how LEGOs are made, molded, and stayed up until 2 a.m. building them," said Ilyas. "I didn’t have a favorite part, I loved all of it!"
"It was the complete insider tour," said Ali. "One of the stops was the LEGO vault, which had all kinds of historic LEGOs sets dating back to the 1970s and ones I had when I was a kid. I loved watching my son in this environment, sharing these same interests I had when I was his age, and seeing the happiness on his face.”
Ilyas also enjoyed a special dinner with two professional LEGO Master Builders.
“I want to be a Master Builder when I grow up so I may have geeked out a little,” said Ilyas. “They told me what classes to take and gave me advice, it was really cool.”
By the time Ilyas’ trip came to an end, his family certainly did not leave emptyhanded. Ilyas took home an entire suitcase full of LEGOs and a custom LEGO frame made just for them.
“We learned there are only 100 of these frames in the whole world and they are all individually designed!” said Ali. “Having someone recognize that Ilyas really needed an experience like this after everything we’ve been through was very emotional.”
“As a family, we bonded in a way we never have before,” Ali continued. “Every time we look back on Iylas’ wish, it brings back so many powerful and happy memories.”