Ever since Ayden was a very little boy, he knew he would be a Jedi when he grew up. Whenever we walked past an automatic door, Ayden would wave his hand with the belief that it was his power that opened it. Hours were spent building Star Wars LEGO® sets, creating scenes and drawing hundreds of battle pictures. From costumes to lightsabers and birthday party themes, Ayden knew in his heart that he was a force-sensitive child. Then at the age of 10, with the help of Make-A-Wish® Michigan, he realized his dream of becoming a true Jedi.
A few years ago, Ayden was diagnosed with some heart defects. Over the course of the next year, we learned that Ayden was born with an extremely rare connective tissue disorder called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Type 2. All the unexplained issues that Ayden had suffered since his birth finally had a name with a very scary and uncertain future.
We didn’t want to hear that Ayden had qualified for such a wonderful wish opportunity. It simply made things too real, too scary. We were still in a bit of denial about the severity of Ayden’s situation. Yet, we were eager for something exciting to focus on, something fun to look forward to as a family. Something Ayden’s brother Alec could be a 100% participant in instead of being left behind yet again. Ayden wanted to do something, anything, that didn’t involve doctors, procedures and more scary news. It ended with us having an amazing memory-building adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
Gina Chamberlain, one of Ayden’s wish-granting volunteers, worked with the Great Lakes Garrison 501st Legion to have Star Wars characters surprise Ayden at his school – what a treat for over 400 students and staff! The chants of “AYDEN, AYDEN, AYDEN” and signs everywhere was overwhelming for our whole family.
First up on our wish trip was Jedi training for the boys: winning the battle against Darth Vader, taking on Storm Troopers, meeting BB8, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and her army was beyond exciting. Truth be told, their dad was as in awe – if not more – than the boys. Ayden’s wish was fulfilled! He couldn’t believe that there was even more ahead.
Four Disney parks in three days, a day spent enjoying the amazing Give Kids The World Village, an entire day exploring Universal Studios and another taking in all the shows and exhibits at Sea World – wow! We couldn’t believe how much we experienced during our trip. This wish didn’t just touch one little boy, or a little boy and his younger brother, or a family of four, or their extended family or even a school of 400-plus students. Through our memories, sharing pictures, exciting conversations and reliving the adventures we had, this wish continues.
Looking at ornaments hanging on our Christmas tree that were made by our boys at the Make-A-Wish Michigan holiday party, this wish continues. In receiving the amazing World Passport that Give Kids The World gifted our family for additional adventures the year after Ayden’s wish, this wish continues.
Through meeting other wish families and becoming connected, this wish continues. Because of our desire to be part of raising awareness so that other children and their families can experience the power of their wish, this wish continues.
Thank you to every individual, family and corporation that made this wish possible through volunteering, fundraising and sponsorships. You spread joy further than you could ever imagine. May the Force be with you all.