Before her son’s wish was granted, wish mom Natalie had no idea how his wish would create a greater sense of community for them. And, just how healing that would be.
“One of the things that I took away was the shared experience with wishes. One of the pilots we met shared a story about his son battling leukemia. A few other people shared similar stories. It was really special being able to talk to other people going through it.”
Critical illnesses can be isolating for children and their families. A wish can help because it gives children renewed energy and strength, brings families closer together and unites communities.
For nine-year-old Jackson his community now includes Sergeant Kenneth Acton of the Alaska State Wildlife Troopers. Sergeant Acton orchestrated a special day for Jackson during his wish trip to Alaska. He said, “It was pretty cool to plan Jackson’s wish. For us, it brought the community together… Although the family lives in the Lower 48, we wanted to bring them in as part of the Alaska State Trooper family.”
And, bring them in as part of the family… they certainly did!
The Alaska State Wildlife Troopers scheduled a surprise helicopter ride and pilot training mission for Jackson from Anchorage to Soldotna where he enjoyed an aerial view of moose, bears, and sheep. When he landed on the Kenai Peninsula, he was welcomed by a group of Alaska State Wildlife Troopers and other law enforcement officers to patrol the Kenai River and check fishing licenses. The community, including Alaska State Parks and United States Fish and Wildlife Service, even prepared a ‘Beast Feast’ party for Jackson and his family, inviting them to try special Alaskan fare from halibut to caribou to moose.
“It was really nice to be asked to do something like that,” said Sergeant Acton. “We have to bring up generations into adulthood….and if we can show them a positive influence, maybe we’ve done our job.”
For Sergeant Acton, being part of Jackson’s wish had many layers of meaning. His granddaughter also suffers from a critical illness, and he considered it a privilege to offer something positive to Jackson and his family who are in a similar situation.
Natalie said, “He [Sergeant Acton] brought his compassion to the table.”
Jackson’s wish not only renewed his energy and strength, it had a far-reaching, positive impact on the Alaska State Wildlife Trooper community.
Natalie was overwhelmed by the authenticity and generosity of the community. She said, “Their spirits seemed lifted. They were all just hanging out together and with us…some even brought their families.”
Jackson’s medical condition is not going to disappear, but his time in Alaska brought joy and healing to his family—and to the community of Alaska State Wildlife Troopers and other Alaskans who had the opportunity to be a part of his wish.
Right now, children are waiting for their wishes because we don’t have enough volunteers. Can you step up and donate your time to help make wishes come true for other kids like Jackson?
Learn about what it takes to be a volunteer
Special thanks: Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Aurora Charters, Kenai River Trout Anglers, Alaska State Wildlife Troopers, Sgt. Kenneth Acton, Alaska State Parks, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service.