Carter’s bright smile beams out noticeably from any photo of him but covers up some unexpected hidden depths. Smart and energetic, five year old Carter loves learning about dinosaurs and archeology and doing complicated puzzles all by himself. His bright smile also covers his battle with leukemia. Constant shuttling to and from the hospital has taken a toll on Carter and his family and they craved a chance to get away and just give Carter “that kid experience.”
Carter was referred to Make-A-Wish by his care providers at University of Illinois Medical Center and his wish granters immediately began to work to give him a life-changing experience.
Before he left for his wish he got his own tour of Chicago’s world-famous Field Museum and a very special gift, a 3D printed replica of a dinosaur fossil! Carter’s wish granting volunteer Brad had worked with a tech company in New York the previous year who had 3D printed a small toy dinosaur at an event. He reached out to them to see if he could get that or something similar for Carter.
The team dropped all their other projects for three days and worked on creating and printing Carter’s very own fossil. In the end it was so realistic that people gave Brad odd looks as he walked through the Field museum with the dinosaur head; they thought he had stolen it from an exhibit! One five year old from Chicago managed to inspire and bring together people across the country. The outpouring of support for Carter is a testament to how impactful a granted wish can be not only for a child but for a community involved in helping create wonderful experiences for a wish child. After this amazing opportunity Carter still had his wish to look forward to.
Carter's mom still thinks fondly back to her own childhood trips to Walt Disney World Resort. The family was so excited that Carter would get to have his own Disney experience. Carter’s family traveled to Orlando and set off on a week of adventure out of their home base of the Give Kids the World Village, a resort for sick children visiting the area This was a key part of what made Carter’s experience so special. His mother said that when his hair began to fall out Carter became more withdrawn and shy, refusing to talk or take off his hat or hoodie. At Give Kids the World Village, Carter was surrounded by other kids fighting life-threatening illnesses. It brought back his confidence and let him return to his old normal, something they had not seen in way too long.
From Magic Kingdom, to SeaWorld, to Animal Kingdom (Carter’s favorite because of all the amazing animals), the trip was a much-needed break and great family time. Carter felt more like himself and now knew that so many people care about him.