Make a Wish

Bradlyn Leach, 6, left, looks into his personal treasure chest filled with chocolate coins as his brother, Leland, 4, looks on as they explore the pirate ship playset made possible by Make a Wish on Thursday at their home in Utica.

Six-year-old Bradlyn Howard had his wish granted Thursday from Make-A-Wish and the Nicky Hayden Foundation, which helped fund a custom-built pirate ship playset with swings.

Howard, who lives in Utica, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 2 weeks old, according to his mother,

Brooklyn Howard.

She said his six years of life have been taken up with doctor appointments, breathing treatments and medications to help treat his condition.

“It’s really, really time-consuming,” she said. “It does take a lot away from him in just the sense of being able to run outside and play. It’s hard seeing him not be able to experience as much as other kids.”

Howard said her son just recently started school, which was a major change for the family, but is important to him having a normal childhood.

She said the family is very grateful to Make-A-Wish and the Nicky Hayden Foundation.

“We’re really, really excited,” she said. “I would never be able to do this for him, and I’m extremely grateful to the Hayden Foundation and Make-A-Wish for putting this together for him; ... he will be so excited.”

Lisa Reeves, senior advancement office for Make-A-Wish in western Kentucky, said the process of bringing Bradlyn’s wish to life took several months.

Typically, she said once a child is diagnosed with a qualifying illness, they are able to be referred to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“Once they come into the make a wish system, we’ll meet with them and determine what the wish is, and then once that is determined … we kind of work together until the wish is granted,” she said.

The pirate ship playset is custom-built with a steering wheel, telescope and a body that resembles a ship with swings. Reeves said Bradlyn also requested a treasure chest of chocolate coins along with the playset, which were also provided.

She said it was an honor to be able to make his wish come to life.

“We’re so grateful to have support from folks like the Nicky Hayden Foundation to help support wishes like this and others across the state,” she said.

Roger Hayden of the Nicky Hayden Foundation said working to make this wish come to life was fitting, as his brother, Nicky Hayden, who inspired the foundation after his passing, was a Make-A-Wish ambassador.

“It seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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