Casey Williams of Lansford was an athletic junior at Panther Valley High School two years ago when a series of sports injuries to his leg landed him in the hospital.
The doctors found something unexpected that changed the course of Casey’s life – and led to one of his greatest wishes coming true.
“I had one injury while wrestling. One injury in cross-country. One injury in track,” said Casey, now 19. “I was about a quarter of the way into my senior year when doctors found the tumor in my leg.”
Casey was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer of the bones and soft tissues. He had a malignant tumor in his calf.
The diagnosis interrupted Casey’s plans for his senior year of high school. The teen spent the next nine months undergoing aggressive treatment that included surgery followed by 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 35 days of radiation therapy at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown.
Casey said it was his otherwise strong physical condition due to his participation in school athletics that helped him endure the grueling medical treatment. But it wasn’t easy.
“It’s not fun,” Casey said of chemotherapy and radiation. “But I was in shape and I always had a good stomach even when I did feel sick.”
While he was in the hospital, a social worker told Casey about Kids Wish Network, a charity dedicated to granting the wishes of kids and teens suffering from life-threatening illnesses.
Some youths wish for trips to Disney World. Others wish to go on shopping sprees. But all Casey wanted to do was hang out with his older brother, David, who lives in Sacramento, Calif.
David is just one year older than Casey, but because David has been living in California with his father for the past 11 years, the brothers are rarely able to spend time together.
Casey decided to give Kids Wish Network a call.
With the help of some local contributors, the organization set to work planning an itinerary full of once-in-a-lifetime adventures for the brothers to share during Casey’s wish trip to California.
On Dec. 18, Casey boarded a plane to California to spend three adventure-filled weeks with his brother, all compliments of Kids Wish Network and contributing sponsors.
The brothers stayed at the Park Tahoe Inn, toured Lake Tahoe by helicopter, rode a ski gondola 2.4 miles up the Sierra Mountain range and went for a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh.
They also went to the Sacramento Zoo, had lunch at The Original Mel’s Diner and had dinner at a murder-mystery dinner theater.
For a grand finale, the brothers were chauffeured by limousine to ARCO Arena in Sacramento to attend a National Basketball Association game between the rival Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings.
Casey is a long-time fan of the Lakers, who won the game in double overtime.
“It was wonderful. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done,” Casey said.
The best part of the all-expenses-paid, wish-come-true experience, Casey said, was doing it all with his brother.
Casey returned to Lansford on Jan. 6. The next day, he began his first day of work at his new job with the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps.
His cancer has been in remission for four months.
He goes to the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest Oncology Center for checkups every 90 days. Provided the tests continue to show no new signs of cancer, his checkups will eventually be scheduled six months apart, then nine months, then annually.
Casey is now counting his blessings. He has a tentative clean bill of health. He has a girlfriend and a job that he loves. He is grateful to the Kids Wish Network and to everybody at the hospital.
“Life is good,” Casey said. “Life is great.”
firstname.lastname@example.org Those who assisted the Kids Wish Network in making Casey Williams’ wish come true include:
Garland-Manak-Boyle American Legion Post 123 of Lansford, Choice One Federal Credit Union, Fraternal Order of Orioles Nest 183, Hills Machine Shop Inc., Krajcirik Automotive, Jim Thorpe National Bank, Valley Athletic Supply, All Phase Masonry, Silberline Manufacturing Inc., ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Elite Limousine of Sacramento, Park Tahoe Inn, Heavenly Mountain Resort, HeliTahoe, River Grill on the Lake, Suspects Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, Borges Sleigh Rides, Hard Rock Cafe’ Lake Tahoe, The Original Mel’s Diner, Hornblower Cruises and Events, the Sacramento Zoo, and the California State Military Museum.