Seven-year-old Aiden is his family’s biggest cheerleader. He’s one of six boys—all adopted—and delights in encouraging his brothers and cheering them on in all of their endeavors. He’s outgoing, social and loves to make people laugh.
But Aiden didn’t always have this voice. His young life has been filled with medical challenges that put his childhood on hold.
Aiden was born with multiple life-threatening cardiac conditions. He had his first open heart surgery the day after he was born and a second at five years old. He also has some developmental delays that can make it difficult to relate to other kids.
You helped Aiden find his voice when his wish to go to a dude ranch came true.
It all started when Aiden was asked that big question: what do you want to wish for?
“Aiden had never really expressed anything he’s wanted before,” said his mom, Stephanie. “As we started the process, he surprised us and said he really wanted to be a cowboy, and it turned out to be the most perfect thing for him.”
In fact, Aiden was so excited about his time at “Cowboy Camp” that he dressed up as a cowboy for Halloween in anticipation of his wish.
Fast forward a few more months to Aiden’s wish. At the dude ranch, Aiden saw what it’s like to be a real cowboy. His days started early with the ringing of the breakfast bell. He fed chickens and practiced roping. He rode horses, went for walks and sat by the campfire. He even befriended a baby pig that followed him around camp each day.
“Everything on Aiden’s list of what he thought a cowboy should do, he did,” said Stephanie. “It was so laid back and relaxed; it was absolutely perfect.”
Aiden’s wish came at the perfect time for him. He’s in between open heart surgeries, and his wish gave him something joyful to look forward to in the midst of the anxiety and anticipation.
“There are a lot of parts of Aiden’s life that are work. While we were there, he got a break from that,” said Stephanie. “He went at his own pace, and he really blossomed while he was there.”
Now, Aiden has tales of Cowboy Camp to share with his brothers and his friends. “His language skills really improved on his wish,” said Stephanie. “It helps some of the other kids see him as more of a kid, and gives them something they can relate to.”
Aiden loved every minute of his wish and now likes to tell everyone he meets about his time at Cowboy Camp. He’ll treasure the memories of his wish as he prepares for his next open heart surgery in just a few years.
“Wishes give kids who don’t have a typical childhood a chance to be a kid and put some of those things behind them, even for a short time,” said Stephanie. “It’s really touching to know that people actually care about not just my kid but all kids who get wishes.”
Right now, 1 in 4 children in Alaska and Washington are going without a wish. When you support our mission, you bring happiness to kids and families at a time when they need it most. And every gift adds up. You can help give these children back a piece of their childhood that illness takes away when you donate today.
Special thanks to Adopt-A-Wish® sponsor Neil Enns, K Diamond Ranch, Erin Jensen and wish-granting volunteers Kristin Cheatley and Ken Kieffer.