Search for stories that matter to you
Erik’s father remembers his son as a lively baby. He was constantly laughing, tried to pull pranks on his family, and he lit up each room he entered. However, at night, Erik would cry and have trouble sleeping. “It was almost like he had night terrors,” says his father. “There was often nothing we could do to comfort him.”
Looking back, Erik’s family attributes those sleepless nights to the illness waiting around the corner. Erik was diagnosed with leukemia when he was two years old. His form of cancer affected his blood and bone marrow, which wasn’t fully developed yet. For Erik’s parents, seeing their once extremely strong son go from training for a karate competition to being in the hospital, was a difficult situation to cope with. Overnight, Erik and his family’s lives changed forever.
For six months, Erik’s mother lived in the hospital while he received treatment. Meanwhile, his father worked full-time and took care of Erik’s siblings during the week. On weekends, Erik’s mother and father would switch duties, trying desperately to maintain some consistency in their new normal.
Erik’s father was a supporter of Make-A-Wish® long before he had children of his own. “I remember thinking, the first time I heard about Make-A-Wish, that this was the one charity I wanted to contribute to,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, what a great organization; giving sick kids an opportunity to fulfill a wish.’”
Only a few years later would he find out that his own child was eligible for a wish. Erik was introduced to Make-A-Wish through his hospital, and wished to go to Walt Disney World® Resort.
A breath of fresh air
“The trip was a relief for the entire family,” Erik’s father says, adding that they stayed at Give Kids the World Village. “The kids would spend all day at the theme park and come back to the hotel, where the festivities would go to midnight every single night. It was a ton of fun.”
Despite his condition, Erik enjoyed Walt Disney World® Resort to the fullest (thanks to a few well-timed naps between rides, of course). “I think Erik had the time of his life,” says his father. “It was super exciting for him to just be in that type of environment”.
Erik is now eight years old, and though he’s been through so much, he has maintained unbelievable resilience. “He has this amazing inner strength,” his father says. “I don’t know where it comes from.”
Four years after his wish trip, Erik has returned to karate and has even taken up skiing. Continuing to shock his family with his incredible strength, Erik lives every day like he is a normal kid, again.