JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Region 8 recently received national recognition for making a couple of boys' wishes come true.
On Sunday, CBS's 60 Minutes featured the Make-A-Wish Foundation and its efforts to grant the wishes of two Region 8 boys.
The story followed Kaden Erickson's battle with leukemia from start to finish.
The Marmaduke school district and city raised $15,000 to grant Erickson's wish to go to Australia.
The money was raised in secret, according to Assistant Principal Shane Robinson. He said Erickson had no idea what was about to happen.
Erickson thought he was receiving a participation plaque for helping in the school's 5k run.
Instead, he was surprised with a trip Down Under.
The 12-year-old boy, who had been battling cancer for 4 years, was speechless.
"He was shocked," Robinson said. "The sincerity and how genuine he was when he saw it and realized he was going to get his wish granted. You know, that makes it all worth it.".
The experience also made a huge impact on the community and those involved in raising the money.
"It is part of who they are and who they turn out to be," Robinson said. "We have several students who have graduated and are still involved in Make-A-Wish. It has made a lasting impression on them."
Kendra Street, a former Make-A-Wish recipient, presented the wish to Erickson.
Street said she enjoys being on the giving side of the foundation much more.
Northeast Arkansas Make-A-Wish Coordinator Christie Matthews said the community and volunteers like Street make these wishes possible.
"It doesn't matter what size town you live in. It is how big your heart is and how hard you are willing to work for it," Matthews said.
Many who saw Sunday's report said it reminded them of how big of an impact these wishes make on everyone involved.
"You realize it is a little bit of a bigger deal but at the same time you are just thankful you are in a community like that," Robinson said. "God put you here in a place that works so well together and can make things like this happen."
60 Minutes also told the story of Gavin Grubbs who has struggled with muscular dystrophy.
In 2010, the community of Harrisburg helped grant Grubbs' wish of going to Daytona 500 and meeting his idol Joey Logano.
Grubbs now gives back to a foundation that gave him so much by raising money for other kids' wishes.
Matthews said her wish from the 60 Minutes story is to make people more aware of the foundation.
"That whole deal was about sharing the power of a wish and letting people know about Make-A-Wish Foundation," Matthews said.
Matthews said Make-A-Wish is always looking for donations and volunteers. To make a donation or to volunteer, click here.
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