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.
TOWN CREEK, Ala. (WHNT) — 288 children in Alabama are waiting for their wishes to be granted by Make-A-Wish. Kohen Pattison is one of 89 in North Alabama, and his wish is for a pool; however, the pool wasn’t exactly the 8-year-old’s first choice.
“It started with…he wanted a side-by-side, which is not something Make-A-Wish can do for non-drivers. Then he wanted a tiger!” Kohen’s mom, Courtney said, laughing. “Which is also kind of outside their realm, so then he settled on the pool, which made sense because he’s always loved water, swimming, he’s just always loved being in the water.”
Kohen is a young man made for the outdoors. Loving to fish in the family’s pond too.
“We even catch crawdads, we catch fish and yesterday I caught a bass maybe that big,” Kohen said, as he used his hands to reference the size of his catch.
His dad Jerry said anything water-related has always been Kohen’s favorite thing to do.
“He’s a water boy through and through. He likes to be in the water, on the water, under the water, by the water; and he loves to swim,” he said.
Losing his leg hasn’t slowed Kohen down or stopped him from enjoying any of those hobbies. He lost his limb when he was 5 years old.
“In fall of 2019, Kohen started having a limp and we thought he injured himself playing football with his siblings,” Courtney said. “They took an X-Ray and saw there was a very large tumor in his femur, which deteriorated most of the bone, which spiraled to events quickly.”
His parents learned Kohen had cancer.
“It’s very rare for a 5-year-old to get Osteosarcoma. Usually, it’s 14 to 19-year-olds, and here’s our little 5-year-old with Osteosarcoma,” his mom said. “That day that we got the diagnosis at the hospital, the initial report, [all] Kohen wanted to do…he wanted to go eat lunch then go shopping for a star for our Christmas tree. That was probably the most difficult shopping trip I’ve ever experienced because here my little boy just wants to shop for his ornament. Trying to hold it together, you get this feeling walking around, and thinking everyone else’s life is normal and yours is just ruined. It’s a humbling experience to realize you can walk past someone and they can be having the worst day of their life and we don’t even know it.”
He would need months worth of chemotherapy and an operation, known as a rotationplasty.
“They would cut off just above his knee cap, turn his leg around backward and move his knee cap up to his hip bone position, and his ankle would become his new knee joint,” she said.
Kohen’s operation came amid the chemotherapy. Then, in the middle of all of it, his parents said he fell out of bed, breaking another bone. They say through everything, he never complained.
“How did you get through those hard times, what was it that got you through?” Courtney asked Kohen as we talked about his resilience.
“God,” Kohen whispered to his mom.
“Go ahead and answer that,” she said.
“God!” Kohen said.
That strength carried through today as he continues exploring all-things outdoor.
“Every time we look at a situation he’s involved in and say, ‘Oh he probably can’t do that.’ That’s not his attitude. His attitude is, ‘I’m going to do it.’ So he sometimes puts us in check,” Jerry said.
After months away from his five siblings while Kohen did treatment, he finally finished in August of 2020.
“We had a big family get-together pool party right aft the chemotherapy concluded. We rented out a pool and it had a slide and that was the first time he was able to go swimming. Because even during chemo you can’t go in pools…so it was exciting,” Courtney said.
Being away from water inspired Kohen’s request for the pool. Plus, Kohen’s brothers and sisters are his best friends, so he said his Make-A-Wish request had to be something they could all do together.
“He loves to be with his siblings, so being able to do something fun with his siblings is important to him because he was away from them so much,” Courtney said.
While he waits for the pool, Kohen continues improving.
“This little boy’s hair starts growing back, his lush locks, and he’s done well!” Jerry said.
He’s growing too, already on his 5th prosthetic leg. He still has to go to daunting doctor’s appointments and get updated scans every few months, but his family said they’ll continue focusing on living each day to the fullest, and loving every minute, watching Kohen get better.
“Praise God, all of his scans so far have come back clean. This August will be 2 years since he has finished. At 5 years, he’s cancer-free,” Courtney said.
Wishes like Kohen’s are granted through donations from those living in Alabama. News 19 is hosting a Telethon with Make-A-Wish on June 23. If you’d like to donate before then, text “WISHES” to 243-725.