Update: News 19’s Make A Wish Telethon scheduled for June 16 has been moved to June 23. The article has been updated to reflect that schedule change.
FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) – 288 children in Alabama are waiting for their wishes to be granted by Make A Wish. Briggs Waller is one of 89 in North Alabama and his wish is for a pontoon boat.
“His favorite thing is to ride on the boat,” his mom Nicollette Waller told News 19. “He has grown up on a boat, it has been friends of ours that have had or other family members that have had boats, but the child has been on a boat all of his life.
Briggs is non-verbal, but Nicollette said she can always tell what he’s thinking.
“When we leave to go home from the weekend he gets so angry! And I’m like, ‘Son, we’ll come back on Friday I promise!'”
When they’re not on the lake, Briggs and Nicollette can sit on their porch for hours, looking out over Sand Mountain.
“Just sitting outside has always been something that will calm him down and relax him,” she said.
She said there are very few places Briggs feels at ease.
“He can’t go to a ball game, a concert. We can’t do a trip. Anything like that because he would not enjoy himself at all.”
During his birth, he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, spending weeks in the NICU.
As he’s gotten older, Nicollette said his medical problems have gotten more severe. He has developed epilepsy, which causes near-constant seizures.
His scoliosis has advanced to the point where it’s tough for Briggs to sit up on his own. He’s lost a lot of his strength as he’s grown into the 15-year-old he is today.
“The older he gets, the more complicated his health becomes and it has started to become very complicated and very scary,” Nicollette said. “Briggs was given a lifespan of 17 years.”
She said Briggs will continue going to school, spending time with the teachers and aids he loves to be around. They also look forward to another summer on the lake with friends.
“But they’re not there every weekend so it would just mean so much for us to go over anytime during the summer, put in his boat and let’s go for a ride,” she said.
Nicollette and her mother both have their boater’s licenses. Make A Wish needs the community’s help though, raising money to grant wishes like Briggs.’
“To see him have a smile on his face and just look relaxed, helps me breathe easier. I know he’s happy and he’s enjoying himself,” she said. “The most important thing to me is to give him the best quality of life that I can provide for him and make sure he knows every single day that he is so loved by so many.”
News 19 is hosting a Telethon with Make A Wish on June 23rd. If you’d like to donate before then, text “WISHES” to 243-725.