When Jack was diagnosed with Wilm’s Tumor at the age of 1, his extended family and friends came together to help Jack, his parents and his brother Ethan through the physician appointments, hospital stays and surgeries. They even took over some of the day-to-day family needs so the family could concentrate on getting Jack better.
“I think the fact that everyone came together to help us on a daily basis really registered with Jack, even though he was only two at the time,” said Kelli, Jack’s mom. “When his volunteer wish granters came out a year later and talked with him about his wishes, almost every wish included our extended family and his friends.
“When he finally settled on having a fun backyard, we knew it was the perfect wish,” she continued. “He loves to be outside and to hang out with his brother and friends but he couldn’t go to places where other kids his age play because of his compromised immune system.”
It was Jack's extended family and friend network who really helped to guarantee that his wish could be completed in a timely manner.
“We were super surprised when we were told Jack’s wish would be granted,” said Kelli. “Because we wanted the yard to be totally kid-friendly, we knew we had to start with a clean slate, which meant demolition.”
Again, extended family and friends stepped up to the plate and started work on removing more than 25 tons of concrete from the backyard. It took more than two years to finally get everything ready for Jack’s vision but he never wavered on his wish request.
“Jack’s volunteers were so great as well as the Make-A-Wish Arizona staff,” said Kelli. “They took Jack’s input and eventually we ended up with a trampoline, garden, sandbox, grass area & landscaping, scooter path, fire pit, BBQ, outdoor furniture, a garden bed, and a storage shed for toys.”
Kelli said that she didn’t realize in the beginning how much work it was going to be; however, the finished product has really been worth it. Plus, the fact that the wish took a little more time than a typical wish was a blessing, not a curse.
“It gave Jack something to look forward to,” she said. “To see the boys’ come home and look for changes, it was great. They noticed when the grass and pavers had been installed and, when the trampoline was up, the jumped and laughed and played in it for hours.”
“I get to play every day,” said Jack, who in addition to now being a trampoline expert, is also an expert gardener, harvesting his first tomatoes from the garden that he wanted included this past fall.
“This backyard is there every day to remind us of what we have been through and provides us a place where we can connect as a family,” said Kelli. “After what we went through, to know that Jack and Ethan have a safe place to play, we are so grateful and over the moon excited.”