Lake Wales, FL – 17-year-old Eric of Lake Wales is an outgoing teenager with a cheerful nature. This extraordinary kid is a huge football fan and rarely misses the chance to cheer on his all-time favorite team, the Tampa Bay Bucs. Eric also loves playing games on his PS2 and watching movies – especially comedies and action flicks. A bright teen, he enjoys school and hopes to one day become a chef. While in many ways, Eric is a typical teenager, there is something that makes him unique from his peers: Eric suffers with a life-threatening illness.
Eric was born with a spate of birth defects collectively known as VATER Syndrome. VS refers to a random group of medical anomalies that profoundly affect a child’s health. In addition to a number of other disorders, Eric suffers from a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. He was also born with only one kidney. Eric has endured 35 surgeries so far in his young life, including two open-heart surgeries. He is also on daily medications for his heart and kidney.
Recently, Eric enjoyed a very special day away from his worries for a precious while thanks to Kids Wish Network, an organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Eric’s mother, Patricia learned about the charity after being contacted by one of Kids Wish Network’s professional fundraisers. “They asked me if I knew of a child who might qualify for a wish and I said, ‘Yes, my son’,” she recalled.
Eric was indeed later approved. When his Kids Wish Network wish coordinator, Jill, asked him for his number one wish, Eric didn’t hesitate: he wanted to go on a shopping spree!
Jill got right to work She not only arranged for the participation of various shops at Eagle Ridge Mall to help out with the spree, she also secured mall gift certificates and arranged for a very special dinner for Eric and Patricia. Eric was in for a truly amazing day.
Jill made sure that Eric’s big day started out in style: she arranged for a limousine to pick he and Patricia up and ferry them off to the mall. It was waiting for him when he got off the school bus “All the kids came running over to see it,” laughed Patricia.
At the mall, there were few stores that Eric didn’t hit. While he loaded up on all kinds of things, Patricia said some of his favorite purchases included a compressor for restoring his truck as well as a tool kit. This aspiring young chef also picked out a chef’s hat, apron and indoor grill from the Rolling Pin Store at the mall. “He’s really into cooking,” said his mom. “So he was happy!”
Later, Eric was again wisked away by limo to go to dinner at La Bella Torre. While enjoying his delicious meal, he got to know the restaurant manager who happened to know some of the same people in Eric’s culinary program. “He gave Eric some tips and told him how he got started,” recalled Patricia.
Patricia said it was a day that her son will never forget. “Eric was just thrilled. He had an absolute blast!” She was also grateful to Jill, Kids Wish Network and all of the folks who helped with his wish. “Everyone was so pleasant and so nice to him. He was just living it up! I don’t think he had realized how much people care about him.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Eric’s wish extra special: The Elks Lodge of Winter Haven, Lake Wales Breakfast Rotary, Eagles of Sebring, K of C of Haines City, American Legion Auxiliary of Avon Park, La Bella Torre and Lily’s Limo.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org