Four-year-old Lukas McCabe of Fisher traveled to Allerton Park near Monticello on Saturday to watch his dad run in a 10K trail race but left as the recipient of a travel trailer thanks to Make-A-Wish Illinois.
MONTICELLO — Four-year-old Lukas McCabe of Fisher traveled to Allerton Park near Monticello on Saturday to watch his dad run in a 10K trail race but left as the recipient of a travel trailer thanks to Make-A-Wish Illinois.
"He's always liked to camp, and when we asked him any wish he could have, he said a camper," said Cody McCabe, Lukas' father.
His son was born with hypoplastic right heart syndrome, which means his right ventricle never developed. The surgeries have been frequent enough that his mom and dad have just about lost count but agree it totals at least seven, which includes four major operations.
"This is very humbling to me, extremely humbling to be on the receiving end of this," Cody McCabe said on receiving the gift. He said doctors feel Lukas should be able to live a full, healthy life because of the surgical procedures.
You couldn't tell Lukas had any problems Saturday as he turned a corner at the park and eyed the trailer. His pace quickened, and he gave everyone a smile and a thumbs up upon inspecting the camper.
"I was surprised," said the Fisher youth, who along with his twin sister, Alaina, will turn 5 in June. He also attributes his ongoing recovery to God, as well as the doctors who have treated him.
It is that positive attitude that makes volunteering for Make-A-Wish so rewarding, said volunteer wish granter and regional council member Tim Voges.
"You learn a lot from these kids, how they triumph over the things they have," Voges said. "They've gone through so much and have such a positive outlook on things, and they're always smiling."
Lukas' mom, Cortney McCabe, has taken the twins tent camping for a few years, but said a camper will make it much easier.
"It has its own bathroom, so we won't have to worry as much about germs and infection, and it's temperature-controlled, which is also important," she said.
The Allerton Park Half-Marathon and 10K Run on Saturday generated $14,000 for Make-A-Wish. The first run in 2013 resulted in a $13,000 donation to the charitable organization.
So where will the McCabes' first camping trip with the new trailer take place?
"Tonight will be in our driveway," chuckled Cortney McCabe. "We'll camp there tonight. We've brought the fire pit over, and I bought the largest marshmallows I could find."
Alaina, who does not suffer from the same condition as her brother, gets to choose the location of the first non-driveway campout, and said it will be to the Yogi Bear Campground in Goodfield, probably next weekend.
Since being founded in 1985, Make-A-Wish Illinois has granted more than 11,000 wishes.