Austin, 16, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma about a year ago, has had a long, hard year of chemo treatments and surgery to amputate his foot due to complications from his illness. Near the end of his treatments, he realized what was missing…he needed a companion, someone to help him through his recovery. He needed a best friend. He needed a dog.
His heart was set on a gray puppy named Layla, but he didn't know where or when he would receive her. Austin found the puppy online through a breeder that was located on the opposite side of the state from Austin, in Berks County. However, that proved to be no problem because of the generosity of Make-A-Wish volunteers across the state. A volunteer, who works with the Make-A-Wish Pottsville office, instantly volunteered to meet Austin’s parents when they met his puppy for the first time, as well as picking up Layla and meeting our Erie wish assistant in State College, PA, for her delivery.
NCAA Division II School Edinboro University helped to grant Austin's wish at its special "Jam the Gym" basketball game. When Austin and his family arrived at the game, he was not feeling well and was experiencing a lot of pain due to nerve damage from his amputation. When he was brought out to center court at halftime of the game, his worries seemed to fade away as he was presented with a string of gifts to help him care for his new puppy. And, of course, the final gift was his new pal, Layla – the beautiful, sweet, gentle puppy he had fallen in love with weeks earlier, but thought was lost to him. The smile on his face was truly heartwarming and tears of joy filled his mother's eyes.
The boy that walked out of that building was an entirely different boy than the one who walked in – he was smiling, he was looking around the room at everyone, he was laughing. The gift of his new best friend, who instantly bonded to him, had provided him with what he needed to help him in his recovery. Austin's transformation that night is truly a testament to the power of a wish.