Local boy wishes upon a 'car'
Fans of the "Cars" movie franchise usually immediately think of the character "Mater."
A rusted tow truck which has seen better days and occasionally has a part or two drop off, Mater nonetheless always manages to keep a sunny, positive attitude, whether he's facing down international spies or trying to help his best friend, Lightning McQueen, outrun an angry combine. And he's always ready to help others and make new friends.
For a young child facing the daily challenges of two illnesses, it's hard to find a greater inspiration.
The good news is that Kason Kahanu of Troy will soon get the chance to meet his favorite "Cars" character, thanks to Make-A-Wish. The four-year-old and his family will soon be off to Disney California Adventure of the Disneyland Theme park in California to see the park and its new Cars Land area.
"He's been obsessed with the movie since he was one," said his mother, Heather Vroman. "I know he will enjoy it a lot. He especially loves Mater and he has everything Cars, especially if Mater's on it."
Kason was diagnosed a year ago with from osteogenesis imperfecta, better known as brittle bone disease, and was also diagnosed with the bleeding disorder Von Willebrandt's disease when he was six months old.
Vroman says that Kason is aware of the realities of his condition.
"He stays at home with me," she said. "We don't want to send him to preschool because of the risks involved. We have to be overly cautious, because he can't sustain any real trauma. He can't do a lot of the things other kids his age can. To a degree, he has accepted this. He understands his condition, even though he has broken so many bones. But he's all boy, so he wants to push his limits whenever he can. He doesn't understand why he can't play sports like the other kids his age do or jump on a trampoline."
One thing which has helped Kason was learning that he is not alone in his daily challenges. Vroman said that she has been in touch with other parents of children with the same conditions that Kason has.
"It has put him in contact with other his with his conditions," she said. "It's important to see that he's not the only one."
According to its website, Make-A-Wish, founded in 1980, is a non-profit organization dedicated "to serve children with life-threatening medical conditions, Volunteers serve as wish granters, fundraisers, special events assistants and in numerous other capacities."
The organization has granted over 224,000 wishes, which include trips, meetings with celebrities, special gifts and other morale boosters.
Vroman said that Kason's hematologist referred the family to Make-a-Wish to start the process.
"Then they called and asked us some question," she said. "They called his doctor and gathered facts to decide if he was eligible for the program. They decided he was then they contacted us to discuss what he wanted to do."
Kason's trip is scheduled for in September and his visit to Radiator Springs is only part of his trip.
"We'll also be going to the beach, because he wants to do that," she said. "He'll also get to see his grandfather, who lives in California. He hasn't seen him for four years. Make-A-Wish is taking care of everything. He's even excited about flying; he wants to meet the pilot."
Besides "Cars," Kason likes football, especially the Dallas Cowboys.
"My family are big Cowboy fans, so he gets that from us," Vroman said. "He knows who number 82 is," referring to tight end Jason Whitten.
Vroman said she is already looking toward Kason's education.
"We're starting to look into schooling for him," she said. "Most kids with medical conditions like his need IEPs and specialty plans. He also has a fear of crowds because he worries how easily he could be injured. So the school will have to assess him."
Bob Igoe can be reached at (570) 265-1652; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.