We can all relate to those moments when you set your mind on something and there’s no turning back. You spend money on the undeserved cheeseburger or decide you’re going to spend part of your next paycheck on a new pair of shoes that you don’t necessarily need.
3-year-old Liam recently went through one of these moments, except unlike a craving for a cheeseburger or splurging on a new pair of shoes, Liam had to decide the deserving thing he wanted most in the world. It was time to decide what his one-true wish would be.
"The first day we met with Liam he looked up at Candace and I and said, ‘Can you give me a playground today?’” said volunteer wish granter, Joyce Roberts.
From the moment that Liam met with his volunteer wish granters, it was evident that he wanted to use his one-true wish on a playground to call his own. Here is what Liam said when he was asked about his most heartfelt wish…
Q: What things do you think about when thinking about your wish?
A: “I really want a playground of my own.”
Q: So what would be your one true wish?
A: “To have my own playground.”
Q: And why is this your wish?
A: “I like to play at a playground. That’s my favorite thing to do!”
Q: What would be the most important thing about your wish?
A: “Just to have my own playground, with swings, a slide, and things to climb on.”
Described as a jokester, energetic and outdoorsy, one wouldn’t know the truth behind young Liam at first sight. You see, even though he may look like the typical 3-year-old boy, Liam is far from it. Before their son was born, doctors noticed heart defects in Cody and Christine’s anticipated bundle of joy. They were informed that their son, Liam, would be born with a congenital heart defect, which would lead to him having his first open-heart surgery at just three days old. At seven months, he had his second heart surgery and in April of 2017, 3-year-old Liam was forced to undergo his third open-heart surgery.
It was during his hospital stay for this third surgery that Liam was approached by Make-A-Wish® Missouri to provide him with a break from all of the negativity surrounding his condition. That break came in the form of his one-true wish being approved. Liam’s volunteer wish granters shared the news with Christine and Cody, who then passed the excitement onto Liam, shining light on his post-surgery stay.
And on June 27, 2017, Liam’s wish came true.
“He was screaming and squealing with excitement,” said Christine, Liam’s mother.
The day of his wish reveal would be the first time Liam would see his playset in full. As if the world knew, the event fell on a beautiful, sunny day, despite the rainy days that surrounded the day before and after. According to one of Liam’s wish granters, Joyce, he had only caught glimpses of the playground prior to the reveal. After much anticipation (and surely a tad bit of impatience) Liam was finally able to, literally, run towards his one-true wish. Surrounded by family and friends to share the celebration, Liam was led down a balloon path full of red balloons to see his heartfelt wish come true. He sprinted down the hill towards his very own playset screaming, “This is so exciting!”
To make a great day even better, Liam’s favorite restaurant, Chick-fil-A, generously donated chicken nuggets, fruit, cookies for the crowd, a little toy for each child and a large stuffed cow for Liam.
Of all the things to wish for, why a playground?
Liam’s mother shared that they moved out of their old house about six months. Their old house was right in town and she and Liam would walk to the nearby playground every day. “It was the highlight of his day to go to that playground,” said Christine. Moving to a home in the country, sitting on 11 acres of land, Liam was far from seeing a playground in sight. “The move was hard on him and he would make comments like, ‘I miss the old house’ and I asked ‘Why?’ and he said because he loved the playground.”
Since the surgery, Liam’s been able to enjoy his playground with every waking moment. Christine said she’s able to look out from the kitchen window or sit on the deck and watch Liam play. Asking to play are the first words out of his mouth in the morning, gravitating towards his favorite part of it all: the green tunnel slide. Aside from the tangible joy of it all, Liam has been granted the wish of relief and the daily reminder of what it means to be a kid. “All of Liam’s life we’ve had these open-heart surgery procedures looming over us and to receive an exciting gift, like a playground set, it brought pure joy into his life,” said Christine.
The word “joy” wasn’t solely used to describe the experience through Liam’s perspective. Christine talked about the pure joy it brought her to watch her son, living through her child like every parent does. Through this journey of motherhood, she’s been able to sympathize with his pain, cheer him on in his defeat and finally, celebrate his moment of victory.
Despite living with half a heart, Liam gained an experience that he can never lose or have taken away from him. He was given the chance to set aside what he has been forced to conquer to focus on that moment of running down that path to refreshing hope.