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Finding Hope in the Great Outdoors

Thomas visits Redwood National Park

“ The wish was freedom from the fear of cancer for a week. ”


- Thomas

Thomas is a smart and sweet 14-year old from Sugar Grove that enjoys CrossFit with his dad, playing his trumpet, biking, and fishing. He and his dad, Thomas Senior, have always been close ever since Thomas’ mother passed away when he was only two years old and his dad began to raise him on his own. And when they went through another big difficult season together, when Thomas was going through treatment, Thomas’ dad said that it brought them even closer together.

When Thomas, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma early last year at age 14, learned from his child life specialist at St. Jude’s that he was eligible to have a wish granted through Make-A-Wish, he couldn’t think of what he wanted to do. At the time, Thomas was going through treatment so he didn’t really want to think about it. All he could think of at the time was one thing only; and that was getting healthy.

But once the two of them were able to speak with their Make-A-Wish volunteers Thomas was able to unravel his wish of going to a place he had always wanted to go to, the Redwood National Park and Yosemite National Park in California. They even learned of some interesting connections with their volunteer – her children were taught by Thomas’ mother.

In June, Thomas’ wish came true when he and his dad flew to California for an extraordinary trip outdoors. According to Thomas and his dad, every day they were there was perfect! They took in the views from the valley floor, saw some incredibly tall waterfalls, and of course saw many amazing trees, especially the sequoias of the Mariposa Grove. They even took a ride on an old logging train and did an afternoon trip to a glacial lake to paddle board! And on their last day, Thomas explored another place he has always wanted to visit, San Francisco. Which he said was a “crazy place to people watch and a very cool city to explore.”

For the week they were there in California, Thomas was able to gain not only the “freedom from the fear of cancer for a week, but also the simple freedoms that most take for granted in life to explore, breath, and simply relax.”

“It’s been a difficult transition with all the side effects [from treatment] and everything else but he’s doing really well right now,” said Thomas, Sr.



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