Seven-year-old Devin of Fairbanks is battling a chronic, life-threatening form of epilepsy that has left him blind, unable to speak and unable to move on his own.
When his family thought about the type of wish that Devin would most enjoy, they knew he would love to hear the sound of crashing waves, feel the touch of a dolphin’s back and the warmth of tropical sun.
So, Devin and his family packed their bags and headed to Hawaii, courtesy of Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington. Like many wish families, they didn't want their trip to end, which gave them an idea.
It all started when Devin and his family were waiting in the lobby of their hotel when another family approached them and offered Devin their boogie board. Devin and his family made great use of the board throughout their trip. So, on their last day, they decided to pay the good deed forward.
“We did it for Devin,” said his mom, Annie. “We wanted it to be carried on in his memory because it was something he got to enjoy. It felt so good to give it away.”
Devin and his siblings took a marker and wrote on the board “PAY IT FORWARD” and included their email address. They found a family with two young girls playing on the beach and handed the board to them. They asked the girls to send a photo of them with the board to the email address and then to pass it on to another family. In this way, Devin’s wish would live on.
Jenny, mother of the two girls who received the boogie board after Devin’s family, said, “The boogie board served as such an important reminder that no matter what any family is going through, you can make room in your hearts to bring joy to others.”
Jenny and her daughters, Madison and Delaney, were so inspired that they decided to carry on Devin’s legacy and passed the boogie board to a family with two young boys when they left Hawaii.
But to Jenny, the gesture meant more than the gift of the board. “It may not have taken much effort on their part to pay it forward, but their effort made a big impact,” she said. “There are so many ways to give joy. Whether it’s a contribution to an organization like Make-A-Wish, a couple hours volunteering for your local program, or handing off a boogie board at the end of a vacation; it’s what works for you and your family, but it’s so important to figure out what that is. One act of kindness at a time.”
Annie said when they returned home their trip Devin was non-stop talking. “Of course, Devin can’t actually speak,” she said. “But he made ‘talking’ noises for three hours. It was like he was sharing his stories and telling us what a great time he had on his trip.”
Special thanks: Wish granting volunteers Cheryl Davis and Tabitha Cracker, Alaska Airlines, Dolphin Quest Oahu, Leis of Hawaii and Paradise Cove Luau