Monday, December 24, 2012

Eli getting his Wish. Photo taken by Eric Shultz of HSV Times
In 1980, 7-year-old Chris Greicius dreamed of being a police officer. Living in Phoenix, Arizona, Chris was being treated for Leukemia and was not doing well. U.S. Customs Officer Tommy Austin, a friend of Chris’s mother, wanted to do something to lift Chris’s spirits so he contacted the Public Safety Department which made Chris an honorary patrolman. He went on a helicopter ride, toured the city, passed a motorcycle proficiency test, and received a custom-made police uniform. Chris quickly worsened after that day, and in his hospital room had his uniform to always hang where he could see it. According to the Make-A-Wish Foundation website, Chris’s wish is the spark that set off the idea for granting wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. Chris passed away just two days after his day as a policeman, but since then, through its 62 chapters in the U.S., the foundation has granted over 110,000 wishes.
That's it, behind him. And, all that stuff with it, except the tree.
But, all, the chairs, coolers, fire pit, rug, sleeping bag, etc. 
World Wrestling Entertainment’s John Cena is the most requested celebrity to meet and thusly has granted the most wishes at over 300. He is now a Make-a-Wish ambassador. The most requested wish is a trip to a Disney facility, according to one of the MAW chapters. The foundation is a non-profit organization, and is the leading full-filler of wishes for sick kids. I can’t speak to how all of the donated monies are spent, but I can tell you that many times when Eli would be in the hospital bed, his body fighting the effects of the treatment, I would talk about his wish. He would perk up, and ask me to make a list to help him decide between a Nickelodeon Cruise, meeting the Grave Digger Monster Truck, going to Alaska or a camper for Big Sam to pull. Of course, as I mentioned before, I wanted to have “Overhaulin” turn our family vehicle into a monster
Eli and Lane keeping the parents out.
truck, but I think he was afraid we would attract too much attention. He does not like attention. So, the more we talked, the more we boiled it down to a camper, so that we can all be together. He had been separated from his sisters and brother for too long, and could sense the unnatural fragmentation of our family unit. He wanted something for everybody, he told me that. Saturday morning his wish was granted through the Make-a-Wish chapter of Alabama and Georgia, and Bankston’s Motorhomes, of Huntsville, Alabama. Harrison Bankston, the owner, was going to help us get a camper to use at Jellystone Campground in the summer when we could not find a place for me and the kids to stay in Memphis that I liked. A cabin opened up at the campground, so we didn’t have to buy one. But, when I knew that Eli was going to wish for a camper, I thought it would be really nice to get it from someone local, and I was hoping it could be Mr. Bankston, if he wanted to participate. So, Emily and Jamie Britnell, of Bankston’s, were aggressive in getting the company involved with MAW so that Bankston Motorhomes could grant the wish. Mike Adkisson found what was needed for the wish and brought it to Huntsville from the facility in Albertville in time for a Saturday morning
Jamie showing Eli his MAW cake with his drawing on it.
Photo by Eric Shultz of HSV Times
 Wish Granting - and, oh my, what a morning. Bankston and MAW make a great team! Three media outlets were represented, there was a representative from Target to present Eli with a gift, our MAW volunteers Hillary and Harriet were there to present Eli with his Deed of Ownership for the camper and gifts, and we had a bunch of Eli shirts in the audience to fill the lobby and snap pictures. The camper was spread out and open, and was surrounded by camping extras from Target, Wal-Mart, Livin Lite (the camper retailer) Bankston’s, and there was a fishing pole from Mike’s daughter (which is a good thing since I closed ours up in the car door in the summer and snapped them in two). Everything in the pictures we brought home, except the tree! Make-A-Wish provided a cake that had a drawing on it that Eli did in one of the interviews of his
Most of the Bankston's Team (Mike was with a customer)
 wish – our car pulling a camper. And, it was on a poster to the door of the camper. It was such a fun personal touch. I just loved it. And, there were so many camping extras, we haven’t even gone through it all, plus $250 in gift cards. Bankston’s let us take over their lobby that morning, and the kids just played and played in and out of the camper, really gave it a good test. Abbey and her friend Jolie have already measured how many kids can fit on one of the beds so they will know how many can come. Eli was very shy at first, which I expected, but he was patient and held onto the Target dog he was given, and the Make-A-Wish custom Hot Wheels (!!! WHAT!!!), but as the cameras disappeared and the interviews stopped, he began checking into every detail of the camper – especially the blinker lights! He asked me at least 10 times how they were going to get it out of the lobby and if they would hook up the brake lights to Big Sam. YES!!! On the way
The absolute coolest Hot Wheels that we have.
We (notice, it's "we" now) are not opening it.
 home, about every 10 minutes or so, Eli would turn around and look at it, “Well, it’s still back there.” I don’t know if he didn’t trust me to drive with it, or if he was in shock that his wish really came true. So, we are beyond thrilled in so many ways for this wish to be granted. Materially it is a great item for our family and will help us regain so much stolen time. But, it is also a kind of closure for Eli, something that he can see and touch that says to him “this is for all those hours that you were hurting, all those hours that you were sick, all those times that you had to do something you didn’t want to do but knew you had to. You did good.” We are excited and eager to make a trip and was hoping to go this week while Vic was off, but looking at the weather, it’s going to be super cold and I been “n’ere, done n’at” and don’t wanna do that again. But, we still have some camping peripherals that I hope to get anyway. Nevertheless, I at least expect it to be up in our yard some to play in – sorry neighbors, we will minimalize it. We also are going to have to find a place to store it. We already test our neighborhood restrictions with Vic’s trucking sitting out, but it just won’t fit in the third bay, which I think must have accidentally been for a golf cart. So, we are hoping it will fit in the garage
Another shot of how awesome it was. It was super.
 where the truck should be – but the bay has got to get cleaned out first, along with every other room in the house, so the garage can take a number and get in line. So, our morning Saturday was amazing, but we followed up with more wishes because Saturday afternoon our oldest daughter decided to be baptized and became a Christian. Our number one goal for having children was to grow the church, and Saturday afternoon we witnessed the first fruits of our labor. Seeing her commit her life to Christ was the answer to many prayers spanning 12 years now. I am bursting with pride for her, and know that she will be a successful soldier. Eli seems to feel so good right now. The difference between last year and this year is just remarkable. He could barely get off the couch and play much last year, got up during the night constantly crying, was

Eli showing his buds around.
 throwing up every few days. He was pale, with dark circles under his eyes, and just looked so bad, and was sad, too. But, today, he has been bounding up the stairs, he plays outside, he roughhouses (within limits), he is eager to do things for himself, he helps me bring in the groceries, he has been wrapping presents. He is truly an amazement, and I feel guilty to be the only one experiencing him because I know how hard you all have worked to get him to where he is. Thank you, I can’t say it enough. We have gotten many Christmas cards, so thank you for all of those. Eli loves going to the mailbox. I also want to say a special thank you for the contributions being made to St. Jude this holiday season for Eli in honor of Walker and Mary Ella Fleming. I’m betting that is in lieu of trading gifts, so thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. I just want to mention a few other kids. I haven’t in a while because not much seems to be going on. Please,
Camping cousins!
 remember Ryan in prayer. He seems to be holding steady. His mother is trying a drug she is getting from Canada called DCA. She is administering it herself with some guidance from a doctor in Canada, and so far he is hanging in there. Scans are planned for January. Also, remember Jack, he is still getting his treatment but seems to be doing well. Please, pray for Ayden who is going in for another round, and remember Myah, Caleb, and Amris. Kyra is not doing well, and I haven’t seen a post in a while, so I’m afraid about that. Also, please, say a special prayer for Makenzey, and her mother Kelly Cain and family. Like many families, they are spending Christmas at St. Jude, and Makenzey’s treatments are long, painful and just patience-beating. She’s a teenager, and I think it is especially hard for them because they have a sense of being left behind, and I think can feel the social pain more than the little kids. They are such sweet people,
What he has been waiting for! Big Sam's going to pull it!
 and think so much of others. Please, remember them, and feel free to send cards to St. Jude to them (tell they you are Friends of Eli!). I’m not sure what this week will be like for me. You may hear from me every night, or not again until the New Year! I doubt that, but I will be out of my routine with the kids staying up late, which makes me stay up later. Sadly, I can’t stay up till 4 a.m. writing every other night and be worth much during the day for the kids or the house. Which is too bad because sleep is such a waste of time for me, it’s such a nuisance (as I bang my head on the keyboard trying to stay awake to write these last words).

He LOVES this atlast that his MAW volunteers gave him.
He's sitting on the back of the camper at home, planning a trip.

Abbey and Eli were ready to welcome her out.
Our new sister in Christ

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