Douglas student’s wish comes true

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CLINTON — Five-year-old Cameron Coakley has had a rocky road health-wise.  He’s been feeling better lately, and in a few weeks will enjoy a vacation that his mom said came along at just the right time.

On Feb. 8, Cameron’s fellow students at Douglas School held a surprise assembly for their friend as his “wish” came true.

Bridget Becker and Kathy Brewer, local representatives of the Make a Wish Foundation, attended the assembly to help spring the big surprise on Cameron.  His wish granted by the foundation is a trip to San Diego, Calif. to visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Legoland, and to see the Pacific Ocean.

“Since Cameron was born, he has always been really sick,” said Cameron’s mom Katlin.  “We found out in September 2020 that he has X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA), which is an immunodeficiency.  So, he has to get infusions for that.”

Katlin Coakley said this has involved frequent doctors’ appointments, travel back and forth to Chicago and long hospital stays.

“Then, in 2021, Cameron was also diagnosed with bronchiectasis, which causes mucus  to build up in the lungs.”

The bronchiectasis caused Cameron’s left, lower lung to collapse.  So, in May 2023, he underwent a lower, left lobectomy, a surgical excision of the lobe.

“And, now he’s been doing great for a quite a while,” said dad, Seth Coakley.

“Make a Wish reached out to us in 2021,” Katlin Coakley said. 

She said it took so long for his wish to be granted because of a backlog caused by the COVID pandemic. 

“Honestly, it couldn’t have happened at a better time because he’s been doing so much better since his surgery, getting older, and it lands on his 5th birthday,” Katlin Coakley said.  Despite being sick all the time, he’s the happiest kids I know.”

Cameron is in year two of preschool at Douglas Elementary.  He has two older brothers, Clayton and Ryan.

Referrals to Make a Wish come from the child’s medical team, parents or family members with detailed knowledge of the child’s medical condition, according to Bridget Becker, local Make a Wish representative.

“The home office at Make A Wish headquarters will then review this information to make sure it meets our qualifications of conditions covered by our guidelines,” Becker told the Journal.  “If everything checks out, the child will go into the MAW pipeline.”

Becker said once in the pipeline, local Make A Wish “Wish Granters,” like her, are assigned to the case and arrange to meet with the “Wish” family as many times as necessary to discover the child’s wish. 

“We encourage the child to tell us what their best day ever would consist of, maybe a remodeled bedroom, a shopping spree, a backyard playground, basketball court, or a travel wish,” Becker said.  “Once a wish has been discovered, the information is sent back to MAW headquarters to a “Wish Coordinator,” who determines if it meets all requirements and budgets, and if so, the wish is approved.”

Cameron and his family will travel to California in a little less than a month.