The day Robert was born, his parents were told he only had half of his heart. “That day started out so happy and full of hope,” said Robert’s mom, Jennifer, “but finding out that he had such a serious heart defect was like a funeral; all the hopes and dreams you have for your new baby to have a healthy and happy life seemed gone.
Before the age of three, Robert had four open heart surgeries, and has had countless doctors’ appointments since then. Despite his day-to-day struggles living with a life-threatening heart condition, Robert has grown to become an adventurous 16-year-old who loves to explore caves.
Inspired by his passion for caving, Robert wished to explore caves in Vietnam, home to some of the world’s largest caving systems. Last summer, Robert’s wish came true. After all the surgeries, doctors’ appointments and stress Robert has endured, it was time to step away from his worries.
Robert’s adventure began with a three-day hike through the Vietnamese jungle to reach the caves. “The highlight of my wish was swimming through one of the caves and having bats swoop down in front of your face to eat the bugs that were conglomerating in front of our head lamps. It was really cool!” Robert said.
According to Jennifer, watching Robert conquer the hike was something that will stand out in her mind for years to come. His entire family was overwhelmed with joy and pride when they witnessed Robert’s determination, strength and resilience during the trek.
“It was awesome to see Robert celebrated and for him to have done something spectacular,” Jennifer said. “Make-A-Wish gives kids an opportunity to experience life and be happy, and not focus on their worries for a little bit,” she said.
Over the course of their adventures during his wish, Robert and his family rediscovered strength, overcame fears and found joy in exploration. Robert and his family hope to return to Vietnam someday to continue their journey of exploration.
Robert's wish was made possible with donated airline miles. Visit mn.wish.org/DonateMiles to donate airline miles or Sun Country Airlines points to help grant wishes for Minnesota kids with life-threatening conditions.