ST. CHARLES – A 12-year-old St. Charles boy saw Mayan ruins up close in Belize this year, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois.
Connor Milmoe spent eight days in the Central American country of Belize starting on March 29. He traveled there with his family after his doctors referred him to Make-A-Wish. His adventure included visits to four different temple sites, cave tubing and zip-lining over a rainforest.
“I am just so, so, so grateful that they did this for me, to grant this wish of mine,” Connor said of the trip. “I was blown away [at] just how awesome it was.”
Connor said he became “obsessed” with the Mayans after one of his grandfathers sent him a book about Central America a few years ago. A trip to the temples was the best way to really see and experience their culture, he said.
Connor and his brother, Aidan, 10, require continual treatment for Type 1 Gaucher’s disease, which means their bodies lack a specific enzyme. The brothers have to get four-hour infusions of liquid medicine every other week.
Connor and Aidan’s livers and spleens were all six times their normal size at the time of discovery, their father Mike Milmoe said. Without the medicine, the brothers risk having enlarged organs again.
“The doctors told us that we can’t take a vacation from it,” Milmoe said. “It’s basically something that their bodies need.”
Make-A-Wish was honored to give Connor a positive distraction from his treatment, said Jessica Miller, communications manager at Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois. Connor’s trip is the 12,000th wish granted by the Illinois chapter in its 28-year history.
Miller said the foundation grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. She said there is a misconception that Make-A-Wish only grants wishes for children that have a terminal diagnosis.
Milmoe assumed his sons’ conditions were taking a turn for the worst when the doctors first mentioned Make-A-Wish, but now he knows otherwise. The foundation granted Aidan’s wish in 2013 by sending him to the San Diego Zoo to see pandas in person.
“I can’t say enough about Make-A-Wish,” Milmoe said. “I think they’re a fantastic organization.”