BELGRADE — Since its establishment nearly 40 years ago, Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana has granted more than 2,300 wishes to children battling critical illnesses.
Some children have chosen to go to Disney World, on a cruise, or to meet their favorite celebrity, but five-year-old Hollis Fortier had a different wish in mind.
Along with a passion for dinosaurs and the aquarium, Hollis loves to play with his younger brother Grayson, but in a park setting, that’s not always the easiest.
“We love going to the park like every family with young children does, and [Grayson] could," Hollis' mother Amber said. "He could climb. He could sit without assistance, and Hollis just couldn’t do that.”
Hollis was born with a rare brain malformation called hemimegalencephaly, which is when one side of the brain is abnormally larger than the other causing frequent seizures often resistant to medicine.
“We were approached by one of our primary care physicians if we would like to do a wish during one of Hollis’ more uncertain times in his life and we said yes, so we were presented with a few ideas," Amber explained.
Several ideas were floated around like getting an aquarium or going on a trip, but for Hollis and his family it was important they shared his wish with others, which is why they chose to have adaptive play equipment installed at their city park: a swivel seat and swing.
“We always say when a child gets sick a family gets sick, and when a family gets sick a community gets sick – and they feel that," Montana Wish Manager Katie Merrill said. "That impact. So this wish today has really brought this community together. It’s been amazing.”
“Hollis has really brought to light the value of a person despite their physical abilities," Amber added. "We’re all deserving of connection and authentic interactions with others. He’s just really opened our eyes to that piece of the humanness of someone whether you have disabilities or not."