Christian Schaer has been dreaming of going on real camping trips for a long time. He was in and out of the hospital for four years, battling a rare kidney cancer. But this month marks three years since he was declared cancer free, and the Orchard Park boy will finally realize his camping dream.
Make a Wish WNY and Camping World of Buffalo teamed up to give Christian and his family a brand new camper. Now he'll be able to take trips with his family and friends to enjoy spending time outdoors. He says he's very excited.
"This is my first time camping," Christian said. "I've never been camping, but I've seen it on TV very, very much."
Make a Wish volunteers helped Christian decorate the inside of the camper with stickers from his favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo.
The Schaer's found out Christian's wish would be granted last fall. Rene, his mother, said they couldn't believe the news.
"When we got the call we were very excited," she explained. "My son was jumping up and down."
Christian was diagnosed with Stage 4 Wilms' tumor when he was three years old. It's a rare kidney cancer that usually affects only children. He spent four years in and out of different hospitals and went through radiation, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. The cancer came back several times, but on July 23, 2013 he was declared cancer free.
Camping World is very involved with Make a Wish WNY. Ron Baker, the store's general manager and a regional market manager, says they typically give at least two campers every summer.
"Families all over Western New York love to camp," he said. "Some of the kids we work with don't have the ability to do that without having some kind of a facility."
Baker explained that campers and trailers are sometimes needed for Make a Wish recipients to be able to camp in the first place.
Cheryl Unger is the director of program services at Make a Wish WNY. She says that, among the children served in the area, camping is becoming a very popular wish.
"In this area campers have become very popular," she said. "It allows the child some freedom. Sometimes the child can't camp outside because of temperature control issues."
Make a Wish WNY grants about 150 wishes each year. Right now, they're in the midst of a "Summer of Wishes" campaign. Their goal is to grant 25 wishes this summer.
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