Hastings children get to 'Make a Wish' in Las Vegas
Three kids from Hastings with a rare genetic disease are going to forget about it and fly to Las Vegas to experience the opportunity of a lifetime.
"We're making posters for Rowen as he leaves for his Make-A-Wish trip and adventure," a volunteer said.
For 8-year-old Rowen Vertin, it is more than just a vacation.
"It's just– it's a gift really because he (Rowen) gets to be a kid for like four or five days. Just a kid. We're not going to worry about anything else," Betty Vertin, mother of six, said.
Rowen was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, or DMD, at age two. It’s a disease that weakens and damages the muscles in one's body, and is eventually fatal.
It can have an effect on brain functions, mobility, and growth of a child.
Rowen’s older brother Max, 11, and younger brother Charlie, 6, have the disease, too, but this isn't about their genetic disease that affects three of six of the Vertin kids.
Max was diagnosed at age 4 while Charlie was diagnosed before he was born. Because it is a genetic disease that predominantly affects males, the Vertins knew to look for the gene mutation in the other boys.
There are more than 30 different forms of Muscular Dystrophy. Early signs of DMD start around age two and it usually takes up to 2.5 years to diagnose.
They’re going on the trip of a lifetime to Las Vegas. They’ll see a live taping of Rowen’s favorite show, American Ninja Warrior.
"I'm sorry," Betty Vertin said through tears. "He just gives up so much of a normal childhood. For him to just be able to have his dream come true, really means a lot. It's happy tears. It's just really special," Betty Vertin said.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up with Kohl's and Allegiant Air to make sure Rowen and his family have the time of their lives.
"Make-A-Wish provides something that money can't buy and that is joy. Our number one priority is to be able to provide joy to these wish children and their families at a time when they may need it the most and it gives them something to look forward to, to distract them form their treatments and their illness," Maria Muhlback of the Make-A-Wish Foundation said.
Lexi, who is 16, is the oldest Vertin kid. She said treating her brothers like regular siblings makes things a little easier.
"I mean, you get the stares every day, but you treat them like they're normal. It makes them feel normal instead of having a disease and it lets their minds go away from that and also helps them realize that 'I'm just like any other kid and this disease won't stop me,'" Lexi said.
As for Rowen, he's looking forward to eating at the buffets.
Rowen and his gang of warriors left for Vegas on Sunday afternoon and will get to go to the wax museum, visit an aquarium, and get to experience all the buffets his heart desires.
They’re scheduled to arrive back in Grand Island on Thursday.