According to Tucker’s family, and anyone who has the fortune of meeting him, Tucker is a “strong, happy and amazing little boy.” However, because he has a critical illness he has battles that he must fight every day.
Tucker has been a fighter ever since he was born three months early. In addition to being a premature baby, Tucker was also diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, a condition in which an excessive amount of fluid accumulates around the brain, putting excessive and potentially harmful pressure on the brain tissue. When he was just a month old, Tucker had surgery to place a shunt that would drain the excess fluid. now at 8-years-old, Tucker has had over 20 shunt revision surgeries.
It was Tucker’s aunt that told his mom about Make-A-Wish after he was hospitalized many times in a short amount of time. After he was found eligible, Tucker met with his wish granting volunteers and it was quickly discovered that his ultimate wish was to go swim with dolphins somewhere warm!
Tucker and his parents have made many driving and flying trips to Minneapolis for hospitalizations and surgeries in the last eight years. And while his classmates send him lots of get well cards, they are not fun trips to make. So when Tucker’s wish was revealed and he found out he was going to fly to Florida to swim with dolphins, he was so excited to fly on a plane somewhere fun and not to the hospital.
In Florida, Tucker and his parents enjoyed a private VIP tour of SeaWorld that included feeding sting rays and sea lions, and the amazing shows the SeaWorld animals and trainers put on. They also enjoyed a day of being trainers at Discovery Cove. Tucker had an exciting day swimming with dolphins, going behind the scenes with a trainer, and getting up-close experiences with tropical birds, fish, and other animals. Of course, you can’t go to Orlando and not go to Walt Disney World®! Tucker experienced the magic of Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom with days filled with meeting the characters and riding the rides. Tucker and his parents enjoyed a fun week of quality time together with no worries, as Tucker put it “it was the life of a life time!”
Tucker’s favorite part of the trip to Florida was swimming with the dolphins. He now has three dolphins at home named after the dolphins he met in Florida: Dot, Lola, and Diffie (Diffie, is named after his favorite country singer Joe Diffie). They are everyday reminders for Tucker and his family of the fun memories they made and the worry-free time they had away from the daily stressors that come with a child with a critical illness diagnosis. As the family says, “We just take it one day at a time and try to enjoy every day because we never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Tucker’s wish and every other wish could not be made possible without the help of over 145 volunteers across the state of North Dakota. Wish Granting Volunteers get to act as a liaison between Make-A-Wish and the wish children as they help discover what the child’s wish is and reveal to them when it’s coming true. If you want to help grant wishes like Tucker’s, please follow this link to learn more!