Make-A-Wish South Dakota helps Caleb fulfill his dream of working with animals

When he was just 10 years old, Caleb’s parents noticed that he was having trouble walking and basically just getting around.

According to Caleb’s father, Paul Winkler, the family went through several medical visits before they finally understood what was going on.

“After consultations with several different doctors, we eventually were referred to a neuro-muscular clinic in Sioux Falls at Sanford Children’s Hospital,” said Paul. “And that’s where we had the diagnosis for the first time, after some tests, that he had Duchenne muscular dystrophy.”   

Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or DMD, is a genetic disorder that causes progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. It is one of nine types of muscular dystrophy. It’s caused by an absence of dystrophin, a protein that helps keep muscle cells intact.

About a year after his diagnosis, Caleb’s parents reached out to Make-A-Wish South Dakota so that Caleb could get a taste of one of his major life goals, which is to become a zoo keeper. 

In August of 2018, Bear Country USA teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Caleb with the exciting news.  

Make-A-Wish decided to send Caleb and his family to San Diego, where they got to visit the San Diego Zoo, Seaworld and Nurtured By Nature.

Caleb says he remembers the trip vividly, especially the giraffes, “Oh, I got to feed giraffes. They just stick their necks down and then I just hold them out and they took them and then they stretched out their long blue purple tongues.”

Caleb’s parents say the whole family enjoyed the trip.

“The anticipation was just wonderful. It was excitement for the family. It was something that everyone could look forward to – this opportunity to go on this once in a lifetime trip,” said Paul. “Arriving there, it was very surreal. You know, when we got off the plane and we were met by the Make-A-Wish folks from San Diego, who welcomed us there, and just gave us such a wonderful welcome and experience all the way around.”

Granting wishes like Caleb’s cost a lot, but with your help, we can make even more wishes come true. According to Caleb’s parents, those wishes make a big difference in the life of a child. 

“Just thank you so much for the amazing, once in a lifetime opportunity for Caleb,” said Paul. “And also for all of us, that we will treasure for the rest of our lives.”

On Feb. 28, Newscenter1 will team up again with Make-A-Wish South Dakota for the “Wishes-In-Flight Campaign.” This year, we hope to collect one million miles so that we can create life-changing experiences for kids facing critical illnesses right here in the Black Hills.

To donate, visit our Wishes-in-Flight campaign page, and don’t forget to watch NC1’s Facebook page on February 28 as we work to meet our goal.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News