James, 14, of Porter had only gone to school for 4 weeks into his 8th grade year last fall when he learned that he had a Germinoma brain tumor. He missed just about all of the school year; it was a very long year with many dark days.
But, in June, four days before James left for his Make-A-Wish trip, it was confirmed that the tumor was gone. He is an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hunting and fishing. Due to the side effects from the tumor, two brain surgeries, chemo, and living in Boston for five weeks (for radiation) he didn't get to hunt much last fall and he didn't get to do any spring or summer fishing this year.
The day before he and his mom moved to Boston for his radiation treatments, James' wish granters visited him and surprised him with the news that his wish to go king salmon fishing in Alaska would be granted.
"Having this trip to look forward to was a huge distraction for him," said his mom, Val. "It gave him something to look forward to and something to do. He would be feeling lousy from treatments but he'd be on his laptop researching Alaska fishing or watching Alaska fishing on television."
Alaska Fish & Game shut down king salmon fishing right before he was scheduled to go fishing. This totally unusual and unexpected challenge was when the magic of Make-A-Wish went to work. Make-A-Wish Alaska contacted the Fish & Game Department Director, Charles Swanton, and told him about James' Make-A-Wish dream. Swanton wrote an exemption so that James could be the only person in the whole state that could fish with bait, with a boat, and with a guide for king salmon.
"Magical, just magical…" said Val.
On his special day, James caught three king salmon (a baby, called a Jack, that weighed 5 lbs., and two kings – one that weighed 35 lbs. and one that weighed 55 lbs.) and five rainbow trout ranging from 1.5 – 3 lbs.
"Whenever people noticed that we were on a Make-A-Wish trip they did something extra like put us in the VIP room at the airport, not make us wait in any lines, or give me a special dessert," said James. "It was special."
Make-A-Wish Thanks: Wish Granters Diane Rogers and Gale Davidson, Make-A-Wish Alaska, Alaska Fish & Game, Portland Limousine, Fenton Bros. Guided Sportfishing of Alaska, Hannaford of Standish, Sacopee House of Pizza, Four Points Sheraton Boston Logan Airport, Avis, Crow Creek Mine, Seavey's Ididaride, Aurora Charters and Alaska Railroad