Return to mobile version

Cole Swims with the Dolphins

Cole Kisses a Dolphin

“ Cole gained a happiness and confidence... ”


- Cole's Mom

The day Cole got to meet and play with the dolphins was the most memorable day for all of us. He kept saying "I just can't believe this is happening." Cole knew he was granted this moment of a lifetime because he had been so strong and brave through his illnesses.

"Cole was a typical infant who loved Elmo and learning new things with his two older brothers. At 10 months old, he began having absence-type seizures, which prompted an EEG and subsequent MRI.  On May 23, 2007, I received the worst phone call a parent can imagine. 'Cole's seizures are being caused by a mass in his left temporal lobe. We need to refer him to a hospital with both a neurosurgery department and a pediatric oncologist.' And so Cole's journey began.

After Cole's second surgery, the tumor had been completely removed; however, complications arose and recovery was nothing like the first time.... In all, Cole endured an additional 10 surgeries to combat these complications, spent almost three months in the hospital, and endured countless tests and procedures along the way. By the time he turned two, Cole had been through more than most go through in a lifetime.

Cole continued to return for routine MRIs every three months to monitor growth of the tumor. Luckily, it never returned. He also went through countless hours of therapy in order for him to return to the best sense of "normal" he could. He continues to take medications for seizures and deals with sensory processing issues due to residual scar tissue. Overall, Cole is blessed with survival and by all accounts, a normal childhood. 

Make-A-Wish was presented to our family after Cole had been hospitalized in 2012 for severe seizures. It is a blessing to know such a program exists, but it is also a bit disheartening to realize you have a child who qualifies for it. When we explained Make-A-Wish to Cole, he instantly said he would like to see "swimming animals and build a sand castle." He also had a love for Diego so he asked if he could ever swim with a dolphin like Diego does.

When Cole's wish was granted with a trip for our family, he was so overjoyed he could hardly sleep. He also has two older brothers who were beyond excited about the trip because Make-A-Wish had provided for them to participate in all activities along with Cole. They had been through so much as well as Cole when our family was turned upside-down through Cole's journey. For once, our family had a chance to take a deep breath and feel a sense of togetherness and joy like never before.

The day Cole got to meet and play with the dolphins was the most memorable day for all of us. He kept saying 'I just can't believe this is happening.' Cole knew he was granted this moment of a lifetime because he had been so strong and brave through his illnesses. That sense of joy and pride he felt was so amazing for us to see after seeing him go through so much. For once, he felt something good had happened because of his brain tumor instead of all the bad he had once endured.

We will forever be grateful to Make-A-Wish. Through his wish, Cole gained a happiness and confidence he would have never had otherwise. His stories about the experience still continue as if it happened yesterday and our whole family made memories for a lifetime."

  • Darnold family with a dolphin

  • Cole in front of Atlantis Resort

  • Cole with his brothers

  • Cole kisses a dolphin

  • Cole kisses a dolphin

  • Cole swims under water

  • Cole touches a dolphin

  • Cole touches a dolphin

  • Cole builds a sand castle

Our family had a chance to take a deep breath and feel a sense of togetherness and joy like never before. ”

— Cole's Mom

Join the conversation

Leave a Comment

Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Inc.
The Gulf Tower
707 Grant Street, 37th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1938
(412) 471-9474
Toll Free (800) 676-9474
Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Southern West Virginia Office
888 Oakwood Rd
Oakwood Center, Suite 330
Charleston, WV 25314
(304) 342-9474
Toll Free (800) 664-9474
Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Northern West Virginia Office
913 Canyon Road
Morgantown, WV 26508
(304) 292-5600
Toll Free (888) 808-9474
Menu