Huber Heights boy meets his sponsor

This article was published in the Dayton Daily News on March 25, 2016

By Chuck Manker

When a child who is granted a wish by the Dayton Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation (ASW) meets a sponsor of the wish, it’s rewarding for the sponsor and exciting for the child.

That’s what happened Feb. 28 when wish child Beau Hicks of Huber Heights met his sponsors, students at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University.

The occasion was a fundraising volleyball tournament called Dig 4 Dreams at the Wright State University Nutter Center organized by the students to help pay for the wish trip by Beau and his family to Walt Disney World and other attractions in Orlando, Fla. The Hicks family attended the tournament and met Lauryn Zielinski, one of the organizers, and other students.

“It was very cool,” said Lauryn, a second year medical student and Air Force second lieutenant from Springboro. “It’s always fun to support a cause, but to actually meet who you are going to impact changes your motivation because you see what your hard work and money are going toward, and makes it more real.”

Beau, four years old, sister Brook-Anne, 9, and brother Jakob, 7, didn’t know they were going to Walt Disney World until their mother, Erica, told them at the Nutter Center. Jakob was in a wrestling tournament elsewhere in the building with the children’s father, Daniel, so Erica took the other two to volleyball. “Brook-Anne started seeing signs like ‘Beau is our hero’ and wondered what was going on. I whispered in their ears they were going to Disney World. She started jumping around.” It took a little longer for Beau to react, but he did when learning he’d see Mickey Mouse and swim.

When Beau was born, his heart had only two chambers instead of four, and one was not pumping. He had open heart surgery at nine months old and a second surgery in July 2015. “He’s a trooper,” Erica said.

Beau’s pre-school teacher, Jennifer Thaxton, whose brother received a wish in 2007, contacted ASW on the family’s behalf to recommend him for a wish. Because his congenital heart condition is life threatening, Beau qualified for a Special Wish.

The timing of the volleyball tournament and the Hicks family’s trip to Orlando made the medical students’ sponsorship ideal. That plus the fact that the students (classes of 2018 and 2019) are members of the school’s Pediatrics Interest Group.

This is the seventh year Boonshoft medical students have raised funds for ASW. To date they have donated about $9,000, according to ASW records.

Seven teams and 43 volleyball players, mainly from Boonshoft, were in the tournament that raised more than $1,500, Lauryn said. Silent auction proceeds were part of the total. There were gift baskets filled with items donated by citizens and organizations, in addition to donations from about 50 local businesses.

Beau and his family, including Erica’s sister, Brittany Newton, went to Orlando March 7 to see various attractions and to spend time together. They returned March 13.

“They had a ball at Disney World,” Erica recalled. “The employees let Beau ride the roller coaster four to six times in a row. We took in Gatorland, and they fed the gators, which was a little bit scary, but the kids enjoyed it. And they loved Give Kids The World Village where they could to do and eat whatever they wanted.” That included ice cream for breakfast – once.

“The trip made a difference because it allowed us to relax for a week without any financial or medical worries,” Erica said. “It brought us closer as a family because we have been so busy and Daniel works long hours.”