When wish kid Kipton wished for a backyard redo, his community responded with an eagerness to help.
Wish volunteers Melissa and Arinda knew that renovating his backyard was the perfect wish for Kipton.
“He loves to play outside, but the ground was covered in gravel that hurt his little feet,” Heather, Kipton’s mom, said. “Whenever he wanted to go outside, he would say, “No owies.’”
Heather is a wife, a mother and a Make-A-Wish volunteer with her hometown Oregon chapter. When Kipton was diagnosed with cancer in April 2016, he went into remission following surgery. But in July 2016, he suffered a relapse and underwent surgery again.
The gravity of Kipton’s illness didn’t hit Heather until he was referred for a wish in August.
“I cried on the spot. My mind just hadn’t gone there yet, but I felt like something good was going to happen. It was a reality check,” Heather said.
Melissa and Arinda made every effort to get the local community involved for Kipton’s big backyard re-do.
“I spoke to my church about Kipton’s wish and asked if anyone would be willing to volunteer their time to help clear the gravel,” Arinda said. “I thought only 10 people would show up, but as the word spread to other neighborhoods, close to 40 people volunteered!”
AZ Backyards and the West Valley Mavericks, a local community group, donated time and services to redesign the backyard and construct the playground.
“You could tell Kipton anticipated his wish that the backyard would be different. We tried our best to hide his wish, but he would point, clap, and peek through the blinds,” Heather said.
On one occasion, Kipton attempted to go outside through the doggy door leading to the backyard because he was so excited to play!
In March, the backyard was complete, and the donors, volunteers and neighbors attended the wish reveal party with their families.
“Revealing the new playground was probably one of the best days of my life,” Heather said. “This wish completely exceeded my expectations, and it reintroduced my faith in humanity. The wish granters, wish manager and volunteers were present with their families, and it was amazing to have so many people to support our family."
“It was a big surprise for him,” Melissa said. “At first, he looked very confused, but when he saw the turf grass and the playground his eyes became huge! He ran straight up to the playground and went right down the slide.”
Now, complete with his very own playset, Kipton's new yard is just what he needed and his family is already noticing changes in their son.
“This wish helped in a million different ways. Kipton plays outside all the time now and has something to look forward to every day. He’s so much more active! This playground utilizes everything in the time we’ve lost as a family,” said Heather. "It's a wish that continues to give. Not only did this bring our family together, but it brought our community together."
“I will never, ever forget Make-A-Wish Arizona and what they did for our family.”