Wishes, hope, and joy: One 17 year old’s birthday wish
birthday make a wish

Can you remember how you spent your 17th birthday? Maybe a family party at your house or a movie with friends?

For Kodi from Battlefield, MO, his 17th birthday marked a different milestone, one which would shape his life, impact his family and ultimately make him a stronger person: he was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.

T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma is a highly malignant and rare type of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. As caregivers know, a diagnosis like this propels a family into the unknown: what will the treatments be? How long will we be fighting? What will our lives look like in the comings months and years?

Kodi’s medical team recommended that treatment begin immediately at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In fact, his first chemotherapy treatments had to be conducted under anesthesia in an operating room because the large mass in his chest was restricting his airways.

Fast forward through six months of weekly chemotherapy and two years of additional monthly treatments and Kodi now has a 90% chance of a complete cure. Way to go, Kodi!

In the midst of his treatment, Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted CJ Pony Parts in Harrisburg, PA. Make-A-Wish makes dreams come true for children and young adults battling a life-threatening illness.  According to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, nearly 27,000 children receive life-threatening diagnoses every year, and they granted wishes to over half of those children. Wishes vary in size and scope, from achieving a dream to living the day as a marine to even meeting a unicorn in a rainforest.

The goal of the Make-A-Wish foundation is to eventually grant every wish for every eligible child. Granting these wishes is about more than checking off an item on a bucket list. As we caregivers know, joyful life experiences give patients renewed energy and hope to fight their illness and overcome obstacles. They can bond and strengthen families who have been ravaged by the stress of disease. Helping kids with life-threatening illnesses fulfill their wishes is good health care.

Make-A-Wish reached out to CJ Pony Parts to help with making Kodi’s dream come true.

Kodi asked that his 1970 Mach 1 Mustang be restored to its original beauty and speed. The eight-month repair and rebuilding process included replacing the body and sheet metal, interior, weather stripping and many other parts and repairs.

The Mustang Mach 1 was first introduced in 1969 and was built through 1978. It boasts a two-door “sportsroof” or “fastback” body style. The iconic car was featured in Hot Rod magazine and set speed records. The Mach 1 was reintroduced in limited release in 2003-2004. Simply put, it’s an awesome, classic car.

In the spring of 2015, Kodi was given the keys to his rebuilt, shiny blue 1970 Mach 1 Mustang in front of a crowd of well-wishers and supporters at his hometown fire hall. The happiness and joy is nearly palpable in photos from the day.

As a caregiver, you probably aren’t able to restore a classic muscle car to its original speed and beauty. But you can grant small, everyday wishes and provide joyful experiences to the loved ones in your care.

How do you try to make a difference in their lives each day? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Written by Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about medical technologies and news developments for publications like The Week, BioMed Central and Kareo's Go Practice Blog. To read more posts by Kayla, visit her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews or check out her website: http://productivitybytes.com.

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