Make-A-Wish Making Memories Possible For Northern Michigan Families
“Just to come out here, I’ll kind of drop everything and it’s quiet,” said Clary Walker.
Just the sound of soccer balls flying into the net and these two brothers giving each other a hard time.
“It’s always fun, we have a good time making fun of each other and just having friendly competition,” his brother Clint said.
20 year old Clary Walker’s favorite hobby took a different field in August 2013.
“Soccer was the escape in the hospital I just kind of dinked around with an IV pole which kind of freaked the nurses out,” laughed Clary.
“Clary’s cancer was so aggressive that he really was dying in two weeks period,” said his mother, Laura.
“I say it’s like those bad dreams where you can’t quite open your eyes all the way,” said Clary. “Your sense of freedom, I was 16, I just started driving.”
He had to accept new norms.
“You’re struggling to do daily tasks, to put on a shirt, because it doesn’t go on your IV and stuff it was like a job where home for two weeks and you get chemo again,” he said.
One hospital room morning however would change his outlook on the rest of the hospital days to come — when Make-A-Wish Michigan walked through the door.
“Hey you qualify for a wish, the world’s yours,” were words Clary will never forget.
“You just spin yourself in circles and that distraction in the hospital room brought a lot of peace because you really got to step back and think you’re going to move on from cancer,” he said.
Upon deciding what his wish would be, he kicked all other questions out the window like wondering when his next chemo dose would be or how many times he’d be woken up that night for a finger prick.
Make-A-Wish Michigan granted him his wish of all time — to meet his favorite soccer player.
“I remember when he came in, when he walked up to the door, it was day dream day je vu, like I played this moment over and over, it all went out the window as soon as I saw him, I was awestruck,” he described.
He signed Clary’s soccer gear, and brought out a side in clary they hadn’t seen in years.
“Seeing the excitement in his eyes, you see his eyes blown up like a little child again and just to see that excitement in our family after such a rough time, it was really cool to see,” said Clint.
A five day free vacation in Madrid gave the Walker family time to reflect.
“This wish just kind of provided us that space for our family to sit back and have those conversations about what it was like but also create the memory that had this tie to the cancer,” he said.
“Make-A-Wish was a different kind of hope, it was a hope a little more tangible maybe and a little more directed to dreaming big, a lot of times we don’t get to dream big even when we are healthy,” Laura said.
Now that he is healthy, he’s helping others’ wishes come true right here in Northern Michigan.
“The street was shut down, they had her in a horse and carriage, people were just chanting ‘hail Monica, hail Monica,’” he said.
He was the Prince Charming to Monica’s princess wish in Traverse City.
“Ya know it has the star that dots the I and that star illuminates a lot of light,” described Laura.
Make-A-Widh Michigan grants hundreds of wishes each year, and Clary says he owes it to the organization in helping him kick cancer’s butt.
“That is something I think is so beautiful about the power of a wish, is that it has this healing and this ability to almost put a bandaid to cover up this traumatic experience and give you this memory of joy and this memories of peace in such a tough time,” he said.