Carter was born with a heart defect, as shared by his Mom Courtney, “We knew that Carter was going to have three open heart surgeries early in his life. The fact that he continued to do well through the procedures, when some families we knew couldn’t say the same thing, was everything for us. We are just grateful to have him with us, everyday,” she says. “And that is all we could ever wish for.”
It was after Carter’s name had been referred to Make-A-Wish that Carter’s parents began to consider the wish granting program. The turning point for Courtney happened when the Wish Coordinator encouraged her to look through Carter’s lens. The wish would symbolize time that Carter had lost simply being a kid, as well as quality time they had lost together as a family during his treatments and surgeries.
“That brought me back to a time when our older son, Luke, was living with another family for two months before he was even two years old, while we were sleeping at the hospital with Carter as a baby. Thinking about Carter, and how our family has been impacted as a whole, was when I knew we should move forward with the wish process.”
Carter was also hesitant at first, telling the Wish Granting team about being scared to get his hopes up, since his past wishes regarding his health hadn’t come true.
Make-A-Wish was committed to making sure Carter wasn’t disappointed this time! Described fondly as “obsessed with Legos,” the wish was set for LEGOLAND in California, where everything is made out of Legos! Carter wished to wake up on his 8th birthday at the LEGOLAND Hotel, so the wish was set for his birthday week in April 2016. They planned their trip to make sure they spent his birthday at LEGOLAND Park!
Make-A-Wish also set Carter up to meet one of Lego's Master Builders, where he got to make a Lego "Carter" replica. The replica was actually was put into Miniland USA in LEGOLAND, which consists of built Lego people. Carter will live at LEGOLAND forever!
LEGOLAND Park wasn’t all they did that week. They had an incredible trip to the San Diego Zoo and Safari, and spent the day at the beach, where Carter and his older brother Luke walked into the Pacific Ocean at the same time, so they could say they did it together.
Courtney hesitates to use the word perfect to describe anything, but said, without a doubt, that week was perfect for Carter. “This was the first place we had even been to that Carter said he was going to miss.”
The family often reflects back on the trip when times get tough. “Seeing the boys wearing their San Diego Zoo t-shirts on a random day, or stopping to go through the hundreds pictures I took that week, gives me a true sense of renewed energy, because the wish was such a positive experience that came out of a really bad time,” says Courtney. “The trip brought our family together during a time when you have to prevent yourself from thinking about the future, but you don’t know what’s to come. It was the first time we’d been on a trip just our family of four, and it was such a special, once in a lifetime trip.”
Carter is able to talk about his heart condition more openly now, and always enjoys adding in his Make-A-Wish experience and recounting details of his trip to LEGOLAND! He also continues to truck right through treatments with a happy, positive demeanor. “He is just a really neat kid,” Courtney says. We couldn’t agree more!