Turning his face to the sun, Leland closes his eyes and breathes in the sea air. For this 10-year-old, a simple moment on the beach represents so much more.
Leland’s father, Gary, shares Leland’s story:
Leland is a friendly, gentle boy who thrives on interaction. He is excited by travel, and always loves to be moving and learning. Leland came into the world healthy and strong. As a newborn, however, he contracted a viral encephalitis which has led to a number of medical challenges, including refractory epilepsy.
Our family’s favorite activities tend to be outside: the beach, the mountains, and the woods ─ not places made for wheelchairs. At the heart of Leland’s wish was him being able to more easily join the family on adventures. And thanks to his wish, he now holds the key to experiences previously off-limits to him.
Leland’s chair is an all-terrain wheelchair that arrived to great fanfare ─ music, lights, balloons, pinwheels, and so much excitement. Leland was recovering from a difficult surgery and was just starting to regain his ability to sit up. He was all smiles and explored every inch of the chair. Even the dog wanted in! The timing of the wish coupled with Leland’s reemerging strength was a promise of great opportunity for our family.
Simple and rugged, Leland’s chair fits his persona ─ cool, interesting, and very approachable. The chair has made our favorite activities so much more accessible. On beach trips, it glides on the sand and in the winter, it gives Leland a smooth ride to the local sledding hill. It has expanded opportunities for him to bond with his brothers, both of whom love to push him and help with maintenance on the chair.
Leland’s wish has literally broadened our son’s horizons. It is a reminder to our whole family to focus not on limits, but on possibilities!