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Luke Joins the Coast Guard

Luke and the United States Coast Guard

“The Coast Guard will always be a part of Luke.”

Every day of radiation treatments is a struggle for Luke. He wants to be outdoors, learning new skills as a Boy Scout. Instead, he’s working to survive a brain tumor. But there’s something that helps Luke stay optimistic during his treatments: emails from Coast Guard rescue swimmers.

Luke is looking forward to his Make-A-Wish experience. He told Make-A-Wish that his one true wish is to be a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. And here’s the great part – the Coast Guard rescue swimmers who will welcome Luke into their world are just as eager as he is.

Their emails encourage Luke. Each email tells him how much the rescue swimmers look forward to meeting him. Their support and genuine enthusiasm builds Luke’s determination to get well enough for his wish.

And finally, he is healthy enough and ready to go.

Reporting for Duty

Luke arrives at the USCG Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala. The rescue swimmers outfit him in a flight suit and introduce him to the personnel who will grant his wish.

And the real fun soon begins: The rescue swimmers soon have Luke in the pool to learn rescue techniques. They put him in the right seat of the helicopter simulator to prepare him for the later stages of his training.

A Coast Guard admiral also honors Luke with a challenge coin, a rare keepsake that will always remind him of his days as a rescue swimmer.

Luke Earns His Wings

This is no simulator. Luke feels the downdraft from the helicopter’s rotor tug at him as he peers out the open door. He clings to a cable that lowers him from the hovering helicopter into the water.

Luke will apply everything he’s learned in today’s exercise, which is to rescue two stranded pilots. Soon, Luke and the pilots are aboard the helicopter and on their way back to the base.

As the helicopter approaches the base, Luke sees a huge crowd of Coast Guard personnel waiting to congratulate him.

He steps out of the helicopter and receives his rescue swimmer wings and a certificate to mark the occasion.

Into the Future

Luke's wish exceeded every expectation - just what we hope for in every wish we grant. It offered him strength during a trying time. It gave him something great to look forward to. And it continues to give him an emotional lift even today.

“To this day, rescue swimmers from the base still keep in contact with him, wishing him well,” said Luke’s mother. “His health is better than it has been in a long time, and it was this wish that made it possible.”

Thank you to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® for everything that you do, and introducing us to a wonderful family.”

— CDR Dave Saunders, Operations Officer

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5 Comments

Nicolas

This kids' wish rocked. I'm glad all the personnel went to greet him. I wish I could even try enlisting for the coast guard after school but recruiter hasn't answered phone for months :0

February 29, 2012 - 5:40 PM

Kelly S.

As a retired Coast Guard officer originally from Pensacola, FL (close to ATC Mobile) and as a Wish Granter and supporter of Make-A-Wish since 2007, this story had a double impact on me. Way to go Luke and the Coasties at ATC!

July 02, 2014 - 7:01 AM

Pamela M

look people this what is about.Helping your fellow man woman and child. Not the fame not the glory. JUST ONE SMILE. To a small child here to feel needed and loved.VD

July 02, 2014 - 9:09 AM

Tonika J.

Luke, stay inspired! My 9 year-old daughter is a 3-time, 3 -year brain tumor survivor. So I completely understand your daily struggles. She lost her sight upon diagnosis and Make-A-Wish has also granted her wish. Stay strong and remain hopeful. For the first time in 3 years, doctors reported that she is brain tumor free! Be blessed:)

July 02, 2014 - 12:02 PM

Karen N.

Congratulations Luke! Joining the Coast Guard rescue swim team is a tremendous achievement! I hope all of your dreams come true! Keep up the great work!

July 02, 2014 - 7:35 PM

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