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Boy receives fishing boat from Make-A-Wish Foundation, Warner’s Dock

Carson couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the fishing boat in his yard. (Photo submitted)1 / 3
Less than a year after being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, St. Croix Falls 12-year-old Carson Waterworth (middle) received a fishing boat thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation and Warner’s Dock in New Richmond. (Photo submitted)2 / 3
Twelve-year-old Carson Waterworth is all smiles after his wish for a fishing boat was granted. (Photo submitted)3 / 3

It turns out shooting stars aren’t the only things that can make a wish come true. Warner’s Dock (1020 North Knowles Ave.), a new and used boat dealership, partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to present 12-year-old Carson Waterworth of St. Croix Falls with a brand new Alumacraft Escape 165 this Father’s Day.

Carson, whose greatest aspiration is to become a professional fisherman, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis last August. The genetic, life-threatening disease plagues the lungs and digestive system, and the average life expectancy for people with cystic fibrosis is 37.

Although Carson has had to adapt to daily treatments, medications and frequent doctor visits since his diagnosis, his passion for fishing has stayed the same. That’s why he didn’t have to think twice about his wish after he was accepted to the Make-A-Wish program in February. According to his mom, Leanne, Carson knew exactly what he wanted: his very own fishing boat.

However, because Make-A-Wish had a policy prohibiting motor vehicles, Carson was told his wish couldn’t be granted. What he didn’t know was that the foundation changed its policy shortly afterward, and his parents were already working with Nate Warner of Warner’s Dock to find a boat that would suit Carson’s needs.

According to Warner, being able to grant Carson’s wish was fulfilling on a personal and professional level.

“I believe greatly in the program, because my own daughter was the recipient of a wish several years ago,” Warner said. “It was a wonderful experience for our family, and I genuinely wanted to give back and allow for Carson to have a great wish granted.”

This is the first time Warner’s Dock has participated in the Make-A-Wish program, and while Warner wasn’t able to be there when Carson received the boat, he has certainly earned a special spot in the Waterworth family’s heart.

“Nate took the time to talk with my husband and answer all of his questions, and he was very genuine,” Leanne said. “That really impressed me.”

Leanne and her husband picked up the boat at Warner’s Dock on Saturday, just before the big surprise Sunday afternoon. When Carson returned from a Father’s Day fishing trip with his dad and grandpa, he found 60 of his closest family and friends waiting for him in his backyard -- along with the gift of a lifetime.

“As a parent, seeing a child’s worst day of his life is a horrible experience,” Leanne said. “But I’m thankful that I just saw the best day of his life. Carson has grown a lot and made peace with the news, and all I can say is I’m so incredibly proud of him.”

The family’s positive experience with Make-A-Wish has served as a welcome contrast to last summer’s devastating news. After the Waterworths’ 7-year-old son, Anders, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis last August, they decided to have their other two children tested as a precaution. Doctors discovered that Carson had the same mutations as Anders, but Carson’s were more progressed.

“In some ways, it has been a blessing for them to have each other,” Leanne said. “By the time Anders started his therapy, Carson had already been through it. He stepped up to the plate and was such a supportive big brother.”

Although the last year has not been easy for the Waterworth family, Leanne said they are grateful for the joy the Make-A-Wish program has brought them.

“It's a strange place that we have found ourselves in over the past year,” she said. “To learn that two of our children have a life-threatening illness, yet also to be the recipient of such tremendous blessings like Make-A-Wish! We have to pinch ourselves constantly, but through it all, God is good, and we have much to be grateful for.”

Jenny Hudalla
A senior at Bethel University, Jenny Hudalla is pursuing degrees in journalism, Spanish and reconciliation studies. Having graduated from New Richmond High School in 2011, she served as editor-in-chief of the Tiger Rag before taking a job as editor-in-chief of Bethel's student newspaper, The Clarion. After completing her internship with the New Richmond News, Hudalla plans to move on to a career in social justice.
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