When Travis and I started this crazy adventure in 2009 we had no idea what to expect. We knew there would be fishing, and boat maintenance, and small town charm even. We knew there would be long days and short nights. I knew I would miss my family. The definition of summer has certainly changed for the both of us. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We could never have dreamed of the opportunities, life experiences, and friendships that were going to be thrown into the mix as well. One thing that we both feel strongly about is encouraging people who have interest, albeit family or friend, to make a trip up to Eagle Falls Lodge. We want to share this place with as many people as possible. Because lets be honest, it’s pretty spectacular.
In the spring of 2012, Travis brought up the idea of budgeting for a few free trips – trips we could offer as silent auction items, etc. He even took it one step further. What about Make-A-Wish? Can we contact them and offer to give a free trip to a kid as part of a wish experience? This is why I love this man.
He found an email on the Make-A-Wish website and sent a general inquiry message stating who we were, some information about Eagle Falls Lodge, and asked to be included on the list of companies willing to donate towards wish requests. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know if we would hear back – but we did! They very kindly told us that they had never received a Canadian fishing wish, but they would gladly put us in their system and would let us know if something like this was ever requested. Good enough.
Fast forward two full years – to this past spring. I went into our office at home and sat down at the computer, just like I do every morning, and went to check the lodge email. I about fell out of the chair when I saw an email from Make-A-Wish Canada at the top of our inbox! I couldn’t open it fast enough. They had received a wish from a kid named Zach in Minnesota for a Canadian walleye fishing trip, and wanted to know more about our lodge and the fishing on Red Lake. Immediately I sent Travis a text at work to call me. I responded back to Make-A-Wish Canada (hopefully not sounding too giddy) and told them that, yes – we certainly offer walleye fishing and we would absolutely LOVE to host Zach’s wish. Sign us up! A few more emails were sent back and forth and it was settled. We were going to host Zach’s Canadian fishing wish in September!
So what does this mean, exactly? Well, the incredible thing about the Make-A-Wish organization is that the wishes granted are 100% driven by kids imaginations, interests, and dreams. You aren’t confined to a certain list of options. And from what we have been able to determine, the organization will do whatever they can to make that wish come true. For kids who are faced with a life-threatening illness, their wish experience can empower, encourage, and engage not only the kid, but everyone involved with fulfilling that wish.
The staff we worked with didn’t have any personal experience or knowledge necessarily about fishing in Canada, but they did a great job of making sure everything was covered as they helped plan this wish experience for Zach. Our contact at Make-A-Wish Canada confirmed everything that we were able to offer – number of guests, fishing gear, transportation to and from the airport, etc. They made sure EVERYTHING was covered.
About a week before Zach’s trip we had a conference call with Make-A-Wish Minnesota and Zach’s family. It provided everyone a chance to go over the itinerary together and ask any last questions still unanswered. I was nervous. I logged into the call and for the first few minutes it was just me and the Make-A-Wish Minnesota staff on the line. Pretty soon Zach’s mom logged on, as well as his uncle Ryan, cousin Nick, and then Zach. This wish was to be guys only. They had some basic questions about how long it would take to get from the Red Lake airport to the lodge, etc. I triple checked there were no food allergies, etc. I made sure everyone knew to bring any medical supplies they would need and to pack layers. LOTS OF LAYERS. I didn’t want to come right out and tell them the latter half of their week was going to be freezing, but its best to be prepared – no?
After ending the call I had that feeling you get when you are anxious and excited for something and there is just nothing else to do but wait. We wanted this trip to be everything Zach wished for. But how do you know?
We knew that Zach liked Twix candy bars and the Minnesota Twins.
We knew he had to be pretty cool if this was the wish he chose.
We also knew that during the next week we would get to hear his story, in his own words.
We knew it was going to be a week we wouldn’t soon forget.