Though he has only a few words, Tige’s eyes are expressive and his smile is incredibly infectious. Diagnosed with a life-threatening respiratory disease in additional to many other medical conditions, Tige faces several limitations. With help from his father, he finds joy in music, cartoons, being outside and colorful artwork.
Referred to Make-A-Wish through a transitional care center after one of his hospitalizations, Tige’s volunteers and father worked together to find a wish that would bring him happiness. Seeing his face light up when he first saw his own personal playground indicated they got it exactly right.
Back in early spring, Make-A-Wish volunteers Jackie and Jeff met Tige and his dad Byron to learn what Tige’s wish would be. Since being outside was his favorite thing to do, the team started planning on ways for him to enjoy more time outdoors while incorporating some of his other likes and interests. After a little research and a few phone calls, Make-A-Wish volunteers found Recreation Accessibility Consultants (RAC) and their parent company W-T Engineering. With expertise in designing accessible playgrounds, the group created a design that maximizes the family’s yard with a safe, accessible surface for Tige’s wheelchair with elements that with both excite and amuse him.
It was an unusual undertaking, but many generous individuals and companies came forward to lend a hand at making Tige’s wish come true. In addition to W-T Engineering and RAC, the Waukegan Park District lent time to install the specialty equipment, making sure everything was in working order for Tige to enjoy.
On a chilly November afternoon, everyone involved in making Tige’s wish come true came together to celebrate and reveal the completed project to Tige for the first time. As he was wheeled out to the new outdoor space, his eyes widened and he gestured excitedly. The colorful playground surface tiles provide a smooth surface for his wheelchair while play areas include tactile manipulation toys, a musical element, a table that can be filled with sand or other materials and a gliding bench. Tige especially enjoyed the piano-like element that was bright and delightfully musical when maneuvered.
“This is life-changing for us,” Byron told a local newspaper of the wish experience. For Tige, having access to this special space right in his own yard means he’ll get more time to do what he loves – spend time outdoors!
The nurse who comes to the home to assist with his care daily said that she is sure that anytime the weather permits, she knows Tige will enjoy being outside to play.