A trip to Disney World and the sights of Orlando would be hard to top, but 11-year-old Owen Klug from Odin was also excited this week to meet players from the Kansas State University men’s basketball team.
Owen is a fifth grader at Eisenhower Elementary School in Great Bend. He and his family started spring break early as they headed to Florida courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation but they knew the journey would end at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City where Owen was scheduled for hip surgery on Wednesday, March 13.
Owen was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome when he was 6 years old. This nervous-system disorder qualified him for a wish from Mike-A-Wish. His mom Kiley Klug said his favorite parks were Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom. The major surgery scheduled at the end of the trip was for his dislocated hip, which can be common for children with his symptoms.
The family kept in touch with friends, including followers of “Owen’s Warriors,” on social media. On Tuesday Kiley Klug posted a photo on Facebook with the note, “All smiles getting prepped for hip surgery!” The surgery was expected to take five or six hours.
She also sent a tweet the day before Owen’s surgery. He had a tough week ahead but, on the bright side, they would cheer on the Wildcats who would be nearby for the Big 12 Conference Tournament.
The surgery went well and basketball players, including Dean Wade, Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes, saw the tweet and worked with the team’s social media coordinator to arrange a visit.
On Facebook, Kiley would post, “Amidst Owen’s pain, fear, and our stress and sadness and everything that came with this surgery, we had THE BEST AMAZINGLY HAPPY DISTRACTION EVER today. I was so proud of Owen! When the players walked in he started holding his head up, reaching his arms out, and perked up like never before. If you aren’t a K-State fan and love Owen, you should be one now! Wonderfully compassionate young men, staff, and organization. Go Cats!!!”
K-State went on to win Thursday’s game with the TCU Horned Frogs 70-61 in the Big 12 Quarterfinals.
Friday morning, the family was waiting to be discharged from Children’s Mercy when Kiley took time to answer questions from the Great Bend Tribune.
“Owen has had a pretty eventful, exciting last few weeks! Disney was amazing; it was so fun watching him get to be a ‘normal kid’ for a while. I think his favorite parts were the character meetings and a few of the rides, namely Toy Story Mania and the family swing they had at Give Kids the World,” Kiley said. “I think he would have been completely content letting characters like Mickey, Stitch, and Goofy tickle his face all day!
“As for the K-State players coming, WOW! What an unforgettable experience. The greatest part was Owen’s reaction when they all walked into his room. He had been groggy, eyes hadn’t even really opened that much, wouldn’t move at all. He saw those guys, he immediately lifted his head up and tried to sit up, opened his eyes ... he even reached his arms out to them. It was pretty amazing, heartwarming stuff. Those guys really turned a stressful week into a priceless, wonderful memory for our family. We could never thank them enough!”