When Ripley and his family began the process of choosing a wish, they ruled out a trip pretty early on. Because of his seizure disorder, the things Ripley can do are very limited. His Mom, Lisa, says, “As a family we don’t get to just go on vacation. We would have loved to take a trip for his wish, but we’re realistic, and we didn’t want him to miss out because of his condition. We don’t always know when a seizure is coming or for how long. He even had a seizure the morning of his wish granting, and we had to adjust for that on that day.”
Ripley, now 17, began having seizures at age seven. After trying many different medications, surgeries, diets, and homeopathic treatments, he still suffers from frequent seizures. Despite all he’s gone through, Lisa says “he has very few days that he’s unhappy.” He recently spent fifty days in the hospital and has lost a lot of physical stamina due to his last procedure. Lisa explains, “I don’t think people realize how taxing having a child with a long-term illness is, not only financially and emotionally, but in that it effects every aspect of life. It completely changes family dynamics and really limits what we are able to do together.” For his wish, Ripley chose something that brings his whole family together, and is in no way limited by his seizures, that he is able to enjoy just like the average kid; an above ground pool. Not only is this a way for him to spend time with his parents and sister and a safe and easy way for him to have fun in the summer, but it is also a way for him to continue to heal and grow stronger. Swimming is a great way for Ripley to exercise, and his physical therapist is able to use the pool to augment his therapy.
While having his very own pool is truly a wish come true for Ripley and his family, they’re even more grateful for the support and community that Ripley’s wish brought them. “We didn’t realize what Make-A-Wish means to families until Ripley’s wish was granted. A wish has the ability to brighten the day of a kid who doesn’t have a lot of things to be excited about,” says Lisa. The day Ripley’s wish was granted, his wish granters took him on a scavenger hunt around Portland that included train rides, bowling, arcade games, burgers, and gelato, and ended with him finding out that his pool would be installed the next day. Lisa says, “We’ll never forget the overwhelming generosity of everyone at Make-A-Wish. They rearranged their schedules, brought us gifts, and baked for us. People that don’t even work for Make-A-Wish donated days of their time. They don’t know us, they don’t know the struggle our family has endured, but they were still so invested, so happy to be part of something. It amazes us that such a small group of people in Maine are able to pull together what they do.”
Thanks to MEMIC, Ripley now has a place where he can spend time with his family and friends, as well as exercise. For his family, it’s healing to watch him to focus on fun and adventure – just being a kid. That’s the transformational power of a wish.
story written by Marie Walton