Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dreams Come True

Kameren Kuhn's dream to swim with ocean animals becomes a reality

Eight-year-old Kameren Kuhn loves swimming and aquatic animals.

His wish to combine the two turned into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for his family thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois.

"It was just so awesome," said Kameren, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 1.

The foundation provided an all-expenses-paid vacation last month for Kameren and his family -- his parents Wendy and Rob, brother Kyle and sister Kaylee -- to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

"To have all of Kameren's wishes, all the things he loves to do all wrapped up within one trip was really a gift," Wendy Kuhn said. "It was really a wonderful experience, something I know he's going to remember for his entire life."

While at Atlantis, the Kuhns swam with the dolphins and sea lions.

"The dolphins you got to kiss and hug," Kameren said. "We had like a 500-pound sea lion that came up and kicked you, knocked you over. I liked the sea lions."

The resort's indoor water park featured "humongous" slides including one through a shark tank that Kameren couldn't wait to try.

"It's not the sharks you're afraid of. It's going straight down. You go so fast," Kameren said. "I'm not even scared of sharks."

Not much seems to scare Kameren who loves to play sports, ride his bike and says math is his favorite subject in his third grade classroom at Greenfield Elementary School.

He's even matter-of-fact about his disease.

"Cystic fibrosis is when your lungs don't work as well as other people's," he said, but "I usually forget about it."

So does the rest of the family -- to a point.

"We don't let his disease rule our life," Wendy Kuhn said. "We know it's there. We take care of it. It's certainly at the forefront of every day, but it doesn't determine who our family is."

Anyone who looks at Kameren now would never know anything is wrong with him, but from his birth, he was sick a lot, she said, and the family couldn't find out what was wrong. When he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, "it felt like I was kicked in the stomach ... but it was a blessing we found out. The sooner you know, the sooner you can treat them," she said.

A compression therapy vest that Kameren wears every day helps clear his lungs and prevent the lung infections common in CF patients.

Staying active also helps Kameren's health.

"My husband and I made a decision early on that if we were going to do something, he was going to too. We didn't say you can't (do something) because of this," Wendy Kuhn said. "A lot of parents with CF worry about them being too active, but the more active they are, the healthier they are. Running, jumping are therapy."

And Kameren plays an important role in monitoring his disease.

"He knows his limitations. He knows when he's starting to get sick. For 8 years old, he's very in tune with his body. It's sad that at 8 he should be, but it's a good thing for us," Kuhn said.

"When he was little, he told us one day that he knew God chose him out of our kids because he was the one who could handle it. It was really profound for a little boy to say that ... but it doesn't bother him. He has a different attitude. He makes it so easy for us."

Full article at