Make-A-Wish flying zookeeper in training to San Diego Zoo


Bear Country had a special guest on Thursday. Caleb is an 11 year old with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and attends Zion Lutheran School.

His dream has always been to be a zookeeper, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation wanted to make his dream come true.

Melanie Barclay, regional director of Make-A-Wish South Dakota told NewsCenter1 the exciting news.

“On September 19th, Caleb will be flying out of Rapid City and going to San Diego where he will learn how to be a zookeeper”

Paul and Laura Winckler, the parents of Caleb, talked about their son’s excitement.

"I can guarantee that the next forty days this is all we're gunna hear about. We're gunna talk about it every single day …  The excitement of being able to fulfill this wish and being able to visit the San Diego Zoo."

Barclay talked about the importance of the foundation.

"When kids have a critical illness, a lot of their childhood is taken away from them and instead they have a lot of treatments,” Barclay stated. “There’s a lot of doctors’ appointments traveling to different hospitals, just a lot of uncomfortable things that happen to them. There’s a lot of days of not feeling well. This is our chance to kind of recapture some of that childhood and give them control of something that’s entirely their decision, it allows them to escape and have some hope."

Caleb was given a custom made uniform as an official San Diego Zoo zookeeper in training. For each day he waits for his flight to San Diego he gets to open an individual gift. Each one contains a different beanie baby, and a different animal.

Thursday, it was a turtle.

Brad Derby, owner of Farmers Insurance Agency in Rapid City and sponsor for Make-A-Wish had some important wisdom. When NewsCenter1 asked him when the best time to donate to Make-A-Wish is, he had this to say.


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