At nine-years-old, Sean loved sports. During soccer practice one day in April 2005, he suffered what he thought was just a sprained ankle. But within a couple short days, Sean and his family knew something was very wrong. He was rushed to the hospital and when he finally awoke from a medically-induced coma several weeks later, he found his arms and legs had been amputated. He had suffered septic shock, and he would have a long road to recovery.
"I live every day as if it is a gift," Sean told PennLive.com. "I try to show the people who treated me that I value the life they saved. I visit the hospital frequently, sharing my story with other children and their families. I show them that there is hope in a time of darkness."
Make-A-Wish® was a highlight of Sean's recovery. For a week, Sean didn't have to think about hospitals and doctors and what he could no longer do. He could focus on what he could do.
"My family went to Hawaii for Christmas in 2006," Sean wrote in an essay for the Make-A-Wish Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship for Wish Kids. "While there, I went to a luau, saw whales and toured Pearl Harbor. My wish helped my family bond, and I proved to myself that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. On the trip, I climbed Diamond Head and did not need to be carried down."
Although Sean has had many challenges, he hasn't let that keep him down. He has served as a spokesperson for amputees, the Penn State Children’s Hospital and the local Ronald McDonald House. Throughout the years, he has participated in several Make-A-Wish activities, including our annual Truck Convoy. Sean was a high honors Kurt R. Weiss Scholarship for Wish Kids recipient and also received the best essay award.
"As a result of my amputations, my life has taken a different path than I had planned," he wrote in his essay. "As a youngster, I dreamed of playing football at Penn State University. Unfortunately, I had to alter my dream. Because I could no longer excel on the sports field, I had to develop strong study skills and excel in the classroom. I channeled my energies into my studies. I am planning to attend Penn State not to play football, but to study bioengineering. I want to give back to the community that aided me when I was sick. I want to develop prosthetic devices that are lighter, more durable and less costly so all amputees can regain their mobility."
Sean used his scholarship money to purchase books and lab supplies for his classes. During his freshman year at Penn State, he joined the ability athletic program and is training for the Paralympics in four swimming events.
Sean's mom said, "Make-A-Wish helped our family recover from a medical nightmare in 2008 and continues to support Sean today."