MERRIMAC — When the national children’s charity Kids Wish Network granted Sauk Prairie High School Senior Gage’s wish to go on a cruise, it meant a break from the rigors of his life-threanening illness.
His grandmother and guardian Linda said Gage had been increasingly sick for the last year and lost 15 pounds.
At the age of 1, Gage was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that includes a group of disorders affecting both the brain and nervous system functions. The disease impairs activities such as movement, hearing, sight and thinking. Gage, now a teenager, has since been diagnosed with epilepsy, quadriplegia and inflammation of the esophagus.
“He had surgery when we came back from the cruise, and I’d postponed the surgery because I didn’t want it that close to that trip,” Linda said. “We postponed things so we could get the trip in.”
Gage had a feeding tube inserted to get his weight up, and Linda said while in the hospital, he repeatedly watched video of them swimming with the dolphins on their vacation. She said it lifted his spirits.
“That’s what got us through the hospital is the video of swimming with the dolphins,” Linda said. “I played that over and over.”
Linda said she applied to the Kids Wish Network after a woman from the organization called seeking a donation. Linda said she’d donated in the past, but since she was laid off from her job in 2002, she didn’t have extra money to donate.
This time, however, she asked how to apply, and Gage’s wish was granted.
She said Gage always had wanted to go on a cruise. She said he loves boats and the show “The Suite Life on Deck,” a television show about two teenagers close to Gage’s age who live on a cruse ship.
In September the charity flew Linda and Gage to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where they were picked up by a Hummer limousine. The family visited Key West before docking in Cozumel, Mexico.Carnival cruise line offered Gage an unforgettable excursion in which he got to meet and swim with dolphins.
One dolphin, a male used previously for therapy, took to Gage instantly. Watching Gage with the dolphin was “heartwarming,” Linda said.
Linda said the Carnival staff treated her and Gage like royalty, ensuring they had special desserts brought to their room every night and showering them with gifts. She said she believes the Kids Wish Network is one of the best charities out there.
She said as they stepped off the boat to come home to Merrimac, Gage said, “I want to do it again.”
“I told him we’d get a jar and begin saving our nickels and dimes,” Linda said.
Sauk Prairie Eagle