Have you ever had a wish come true? If you have, you might be able to imagine how Cody Wellnitz of Milbank felt last weekend. Cody, a ninth-grader at MHS, had his dream come true courtesy of Make-A-Wish South Dakota and Montana.
Make-A-Wish fulfills life-changing wishes for children like Cody with critical illnesses. The organization says research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight their illnesses.
Cody, most of all, wanted to visit the Mall of America and go on a shopping spree. He hoped to explore the unique stores and pick out some of his favorite things.
After Cody, who has a nervous system disorder, was selected by Make-a-Wish, a lot of wheels started turning to make things happen. Tara Anderson, one of Cody’s local Wish grantors says, “It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of Cody’s Wish team. From our initial Wish visit in February 2020 to our much-anticipated Wish party last week, it has been a long road, but I think Cody will look back on this experience and know how much he is loved and supported.”
Anderson says, “Finally getting to celebrate with Cody and his huge support team was so exciting! The joy a Wish child experiences throughout the Wish-granting process often carries over to the entire family and brings a much-needed reprieve for them.”
Cody’s mom, Sheena King, says, “Cody still endures many life challenges. Each day is a roller coaster for him, yet he endures life with such a positive attitude. He brings so much joy to our family, and we love him just the way he is! Cody is such a kind person and a wonderful role model.”
Like every child that has come into this world, Cody is unique. He is also the same as millions of other kids. He loves superheroes and playing video games. He collects seashells, gold coins, and anything Batman. His all-time favorite movie is Batman vs Robin.
Make-A-Wish describes Cody as “having a heart of gold and a 15-year-old who adores his two younger brothers.” Anderson agreed, she says, “Cody deserved every bit of attention and love he received as a Make-a-Wish child.”
And when a community comes together to go above and beyond it shows a Make-A-Wish child and their family they are not fighting alone, Valley Queen, Cody’s Adopt-A-Wish partner, was already a big part of making Cody’s wish come true, but they also decided to start Cody’s weekend off with a sendoff befitting a real life superhero.
They planned the parade to wind through downtown Milbank and alerted all the local shop owners. People stepped out of the stores and businesses to wave at Cody and his family and wish them well on their way.
Evan Grong of Valley Queen, said, “Valley Queen is proud to partner with Make-A-Wish through their Driving for Dreams program. It’s especially exciting when we can partner with Make-A-Wish to make a wish come true for a child right here in our community.”
The Make-A-Wish South Dakota and Montana chapter have granted more than 2,200 wishes for children. They do it with the help of generous donors, supporters, staff, and more than 30,000 volunteers.
Sheena, said, “Cody’s dad, Marty, his brothers Corbin, 8, and Colton,4, and I all say, “Thank you for such an amazing opportunity to make Cody’s wish come true!”
Although there’s no way to list everything Cody enjoyed last weekend — what happens at the Mall of America stays at the Mall of America — it most likely included Legoland, Batman, ribs, chicken Alfredo, Doritos, and Milk Duds. Cody’s favorite things and coincidently all the stuff that dreams are made of!
For more information about Make-A-Wish South Dakota and Montana, visit wish.org/sdmt.
Photos: Top-Cody, #2 Brittany Pedersen and Tara Anderson-Make a- Wish wish granters #3 parade, #4 Police Chief Boyd VanVooren escorting Cody in the parade, #5 Valley Queen staff at the send-off parade