An East Tennessee boy with life-threatening illnesses has learned on Monday his dream of traveling to New York City will come true.
What was just an ordinary day for 13-year-old Skyelar Effler from Sevierville, turned into an extraordinary day for the teen when his mother, Heather Effler, pulled into the Sevierville fire station.
Tambra Fulk, wish coordinator for Kids Wish Network, said the entire event, including Skyelar’s visit to the local fire department, was a complete surprise to the boy.
“He actually hasn’t been to his hometown fire department yet,” Fulk said. “The only one he’s ever visited … he came from North Carolina and he has visited that one, but he’s never been to this one and he has no idea. His mom has kept this whole thing a secret.”
Skyelar, a huge fan of firefighters, was met with another surprise beyond just meeting the local firefighters. He was granted a once-in-a-lifetime wish to go on a big adventure to New York City by the Kids Wish Network, a charitable organization that helps grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. The Sevierville Fire Department has worked with the organization in the past and was happy to help with the big reveal.
Skyelar was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening illnesses from a young age. He was born with cerebral palsy, and at age 2 he was diagnosed with Simpson-Golabi-Behmel syndrome which causes major organs like the heart, liver and spleen to over-grow.
In September of 2018, he was further diagnosed with Dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the nerves that regulate non-voluntary body functions, like his heart rate, blood pressure and sweating.
But Skyelar is a fighter and his big dreams keep him going.
Fulk explained how granting Skyelar’s wish was simple, because New York City is the best place when it comes to firefighters.
“Actually, this wish was really, really kind of easy to put together for Skyelar because he was all about New York City,” Fulk said. “And because he wanted to be a fireman, what better place to send him then New York City? Where we have the best firemen in the world.”
While there, Skyelar — who wants to be a firefighter — will not only meet New York firefighters, but also has a weekend full of fun activities planned. He and his family will fly to New York City on Thursday, July 11, where they will stay in the classic elegant Roosevelt Hotel in midtown NYC.
During their stay, Skyelar will spend a night sleeping in the American Museum of Natural History. On Saturday, Yankee’s fan Skyelar will get to tour Yankee Stadium, before attending a game with his entire family.
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