Four-year-old Derek Wilson knew just what he wanted for his Make-A- Wish request: a Ninja Turtle lair. Make-A-Wish Maine is dedicated to granting wishes for children with serious, life-threatening illnesses. Derek was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and has been in treatment ever since.
Make-A-Wish’s Senior Program Director Kate Vickery knew just who to turn to for help with Derek’s dream: the Maine Sustainable Forestry Initiative, led by my friend Pat Sirois. Lots of folks stepped up enthusiastically to build the Ninja Turtle lair in Pat’s garage.
When it was done, Derek’s parents took Derek to his grandfather’s home to give Pat and his crew time to deliver and set up the lair. It included a two-floor block, custom-made doors with Derek’s name that allow kids to enter at the bottom and enter a tunnel to the left or climb a ladder to open the top floor – a spiraling slide that takes them back to the ground. Swings are to the right, and a child-sized Ninja Turtle stands at the top of the structure. Magnificent!
Watch this video to see Derek’s enthusiastic response when he was brought blindfolded into the yard, the blindfold came off, and he sprinted to the lair. Priceless!