He grew up on the water, with the wind in his hair and the sun at his back. Fishing, swimming and tubing his favorite pastimes. The Niantic River on the Connecticut shoreline his backyard. A varsity football player for his high school, seventeen-year-old Ben is a hands-on kid who has always been handy and tinkers with motors and engines.
Ben remembers tagging along on his friends’ boats every chance he got. His summers were filled with endless sunny days on boats, and much to his parents’ chagrin, he has always pushed the envelope to have one of his own.
He got his first boating license at age 11 and has maintained it every year since. His first boat was a kayak that he put his own motor on. His next boat was a motorized zodiac, and last summer he upgraded to a small aluminum motorboat. He travels up and down the Niantic River and into Long Island sound. To say Ben is hooked on boats is like telling the water it is wet.|
But in January 2020 the tides turned, bringing some terrible news– Ben was diagnosed with lymphoma. When asked about his one true wish, Ben was unequivocal; he said, “I knew I didn’t want a big trip or anything, I wanted something to share with friends and family for a long time, I wanted a boat.” A boat to escape to, a boat to adventure on, a boat he could own indefinitely.
Ben is still in treatment and is scared, especially in these troubling times. He knew that the promise of being on the water in his own boat would give him the energy and strength to push through, and the anticipation and hope for the upcoming summer and brighter, simpler times.
But what Ben didn’t know was that on April 29, World Wish Day and the 40th Anniversary of Make-A-Wish, his family and the entire shoreline community would come together (at an appropriate social distance and wearing protective masks, of course) and deliver the surprise of a lifetime – a boat and trailer at the tail of a huge, celebratory parade in his honor.
I can’t tell you how wonderful all of this feels! Such a bright spot in Ben’s journey. The boat symbolizes not only his summer, but his future and everything he has to look forward to after getting through the last few months.
Ben's Mom Ashley