Eisenhower Elementary School students were asked to wear purple on Thursday for a special assembly, but they didn’t know it was a surprise for one of their classmates.
Fifth-grader Owen Klug was brought front and center as representatives from the Make-A-Wish Foundation announced that the Klug family is headed to Disney World.
Principal Laurie Harwood kept the secret right up to the time people started walking to the head of the assembly wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Harwood was wearing purple and most of the students were, too. It’s the designated color for Epilepsy Awareness as well as the color of the “Team Owen” shirts that have been produced locally.
Eleven-year-old Owen lives in Odin with his dad Gavin, mom Kiley, little brothers Dexter, 8, and Blake, 5, and dog Brutus. He loves people, especially his teachers, bus driver, caretakers, friends and family. He is a sweet, laid back boy who spreads happiness and inspiration wherever he goes.
“We knew about this, because we have to be involved with the planning,” Kiley Klug said. “We looked at all of Owen’s favorite things to do.” He enjoys anything that involves biking, swinging, spinning, music, and jumping. He loves being outdoors, so it’s great that they’ll enjoy a week of warm weather at the end of the month when they head to the Give Kids the World Village in central Florida.
Kiley said her boys are looking forward to the trip.
“They are really excited for Minions, Transformers, and the rides,” she said.
It will also be a treat because a week after the fun trip Owen will be headed to Kansas City for hip surgery.
Owen was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome when he was 6 years old. This nervous-system disorder qualified him for a wish from Make-A-Wish.
Owen had his first seizure at 6 months of age after an uncomplicated birth. The next few years were full of testing, several different medication trials, procedures, surgeries, and a lot of questions. Owen, at his worst, had 250 seizures an 18-hour period, Kiley said. Because of the severe intractable epilepsy he was enduring, Owen lost a number of developmental skills such as sitting independently, clapping, and walking in a walker.
He was finally clinically diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome when he was 6 years old. Dravet Syndrome is characterized by severe, chronic, intractable epilepsy, oftentimes paired with global developmental delay, sensory impairment, orthopedic conditions, and many other issues.
Learn more online at dravetfoundation.org, and follow "Owen's Warriors" on Facebook.
Owen takes his daily struggles in stride, his parents said. His wish-granters agree. “He loves life, and his smile lights up the lives of everyone who knows him. He is so tough, so resilient, and so deserving of a granted wish!” said Lori Likes, representing Fee Insurance Group out of Hutchinson. Likes was one of the wish grantors on-site Thursday to help deliver the good news.
“It was an absolute joy meeting our Wish Kid, Owen, and his family,” said Likes. “I fell in love immediately with his little freckled face and his big smile. It was an eye-opening experience watching Owen and his family interact. They were all so on point as to Owen’s needs. I learned a lot that day about Owen; it was easy to see what gives him joy in life. Since that initial meeting, I have been able to stay up-to-date with Owen as one of his many followers on social media. We were all completely overjoyed with tear-filled eyes, when Make-A-Wish was able to make Owen’s wish come true.”
LuAnn Bott, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas, commented, “Today is a momentous occasion as Owen will be surprised with the news that his one-true wish will be coming true. We hope that his wish experience will bring him and his family a much-needed break from the realities associated with his condition. We are also extremely grateful for the support of Great Bend Schools and the Eisenhower Elementary community. Today is a true testament to the caring nature of the state of Kansas and we couldn’t be more excited for Owen.”
“Owen and his family are very deserving of this dream-come-true trip to Disney World,” said Khris Thexton, USD 428 superintendent. “We are humbled by Owen’s strength, determination and joy. Including the Eisenhower family in this big announcement gave our family at USD 428 the chance to cheer on the Klug family; we couldn’t be more excited for them!”
Make-A-Wish® Missouri & Kansas creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses as an integral part of their treatment journey. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Make-A-Wish is the world’s leading children’s wish-granting organization. The local chapter is headquartered in Ballwin, Missouri, and serves every community in Missouri and Kansas.
For more information online, visit mokan.wish.org or connect on Facebook (makeawishMOKAN), Twitter (@makeawishMOKAN), Instagram (@makeawishMOKAN) and YouTube (MakeAWishMOKAN).