Friday, May 29, 2015

TOP STORY >> Dream vacation for sick boy

Members of Beebe Junior High School’s FBLA club pose with Blake Wilkerson, 5, of Austin last week after they presented him with a free trip to the Atlantis Water Park in the Bahamas. The FBLA members raised the $5,000 needed so that Blake, who has a heart murmur, and his family can go on vacation.
Leader staff writer

The Beebe Junior High School Future Business Leaders of America club once again teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help a youngster with a life-threatening heart condition see his dreams come true.

On Friday, 5-year-old Blake Wilkerson of Austin was given a free five-day trip with his parents to the Atlantis Water Park in the Bahamas during a ceremony held in the Beebe Auditorium.

He received swimwear, pails, a backpack and beach toys for the vacation that starts in two weeks.

The club and other donors raised $5,000 for the wish.

Blake was born on March 26, 2009. During a newborn exam, doctors heard a heart murmur. They found out he had an enlarged heart that was unable to pump efficiently.

Doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital told the boy’s parents that his heart muscles were very weak. They compared them to those of a 90-year-old man.

Blake didn’t need a heart transplant, though. He stayed at Children’s Hospital’s intensive care unit for 29 days until he could come home. His heart function has continued to improve to be near normal.

Blake is on two medications, down from nine.

His parents, Brad and Claire Wilkerson, were taught to recognize the signs of heart failure. They know he could be fine one day and start to decline the next.

Blake gets an echocardiogram every six months. He is regularly examined by a physician at Children’s Hospital and a cardiomyopathy specialist in Cincinnati.

But Blake’s parents haven’t let their son’s heart condition slow him down. He is an active little guy. He can run across three acres and not get winded. Blake likes to ride his four-wheeler and bike. He often plays outside until sunset.

“We are blessed that he is doing so well. We are humbled by everything they are doing for him,” Claire Wilkerson said.

“He is living every day to the fullest. We don’t live life worrying about the future,” his mom added.

Claire Wilkerson said they plan to be involved in the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the future to help other children like hers.