Colton, 16, faces serious illness every day. The teen follows a regime of medications and infusions to slow progression of a life-threatening rheumatological disorder.
The condition, which affects his skin and underlying tissue, sometimes restricts his movement and has the potential to spread to his internal organs. Despite his illness, Colton keeps perspective, aware that others have much more difficult life circumstances. A warm-hearted teen who is an active volunteer in his community, “Colton felt that if he were going to benefit from a wish, it should be meaningful and help others,” says his mom, Kathie.
Having always wanted to participate in a service project abroad, Colton wished to volunteer in Peru. His wish brought him to Villa El Salvador, a coastal district on the outskirts of Lima. For a week, Colton tookpart in volunteer projects arranged through a program called Cross Cultural Solutions. He spent time at PRONOEI “Huellitas en la Arena,” a preschool with minimal staff and resources. There, he provided muchneeded support for the children, leading learning activities, reading aloud, and relishing the opportunity to be a playmate to them.
Colton also volunteered at Los Martincitos, a day program for the elderly. “It was one of the most profound experiences of my life,” says Colton. “We bagged rice, knowing it would be the bulk of the food these folks would have for the week. We prepared and served lunch and were hugged and kissed by so many. It was very humbling.”
Feeling a sense of accomplishment greater than any he's felt before, Colton returned home from his wish carrying lessons of gratitude that will stay with him forever.