Tyler ‘cruises’ to the islands thanks to Kids Wish Network

A very special young boy from Rockford recently enjoyed an exciting wish come true thanks to Kids Wish Network, an organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Fourteen-year-old Tyler, who was diagnosed with leukemia last year, couldn’t believe it when he got his wish to go on a cruise. This extraordinary trip began with a simple phone call.

In March 2006, Tyler was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). CML is a malignant cancer of the bone marrow. Since his diagnosis, Tyler has been in and out of the hospital, endured numerous medical procedures and tests, and undergone chemotherapy. Tyler’s doctors continue to monitor him extremely carefully for any signs that his body is rejecting his medications. When Tyler reaches molecular remission, he will undergo a bone marrow transplant.

Not long ago, Tyler’s mother, Brenda, was contacted by Kids Wish Network. A close relative had submitted Tyler’s name to the charity in hopes that he might be eligible for a wish. When asked if she might be interested in having a wish granted for Tyler, Brenda immediately said yes. After all that Tyler had been through, he definitely deserved something special to look forward to. The family was later delighted to learn that Tyler had indeed been approved, and this courageous teen-ager knew just what he wanted to do: he wanted to go on a cruise!

Tyler’s Kids Wish Network wish coordinator, Madeline, quickly began making the arrangements for his wish. She not only secured cruise tickets for Carnival’s Fascination, she also booked airline reservations from Rockford to Miami, arranged for spending money and more. This amazing boy was in for a truly special dream come true!

The spectacular four-day cruise aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Fascination ferried Tyler and his family and all of its other eager passengers along the lush, palm-lined islands of the Gulf of Mexico. On board, there was definitely no shortage of things to do. Tyler especially enjoyed hanging out with other kids his age at Camp Carnival, which kept them all busy with games, scavenger hunts and dancing at the on-board disco. “He really enjoyed that,” said Brenda.

The ship docked first in Key West, and Tyler and his parents disembarked from the ship. On the island, the group headed over to the Pirate Soul Museum. Both of his parents said he had a blast at the interactive museum, where he got to see replicas of treasure chests and pirate flags. “That was great,” said Brenda. “We learned about all the different pirates. It was pretty cool!” Their next stop was in Cozumel, Mexico. After exploring the balmy, beautiful island, Tyler’s guide took him snorkeling for the first time. Brenda said he had a ball on his underwater adventure.

Back on board, Tyler was treated to a special tour of the bridge and a visit with the ship’s captain. Brenda said Tyler was definitely impressed with all the equipment the captain showed him. “He showed Tyler the radar and the control panels.” The captain even shared his trick with the family about how he maneuvered the ship between the clouds for optimal sunshine. “That was cool!” laughed Brenda.

Tyler returned home to frigid, freezing temperatures, but with plenty of warm memories. Brenda said the entire experience meant the world to him. “We knew the trip had to end, but it came much faster than any of us wanted. Tyler had a blast! It was a whole week of ‘first-time experiences’ for him, and it was a week we know he will always remember.”

She said the family was particularly grateful to Madeline and Kids Wish Network. “From our first phone call many months ago, to our arrival back from Miami—everything was planned and executed flawlessly! Simply put, it was a perfect break for our family, and one that we badly needed.” After all of Tyler’s hospital visits, bone marrow biopsies and daily struggles with his illness, Brenda said the trip gave them a special week of being together as a family and time away from all of their worries. “We could devote our attention to Tyler and just let him be a kid. And the trip proved to be all of that and more. Words simply can’t express the thanks we have for Kids Wish Network. KWN does make a difference.”

Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Tyler’s wish extra special: Beaches Bar and Grill, Carefree Lifestyle Limousines, Carnival and Days Inn Oceanside.

From the Feb. 28-March 6, 2007, issue

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