Six-year-old Mason “Baylee” Rose has for more than three years been battling leukemia. It’s been a rough time for his family — but Saturday was a time of pure fun and celebration.
Baylee and his friends were thrilled to spend the day enjoying a large new swing set and jungle gym combo at his grandmother’s home near York. The gift came courtesy of Make-A-Wish South Carolina.
“He was speechless,” said Baylee’s mother, Tina Rose, as she described her son’s reaction to the jungle gym. “We’ve had it for about a week, and he’s been playing on it every day.”
Baylee was diagnosed in August 2008 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and has been treated with different forms of chemotherapy since then, she said. A social worker at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, where Baylee has been treated, referred the family to Make-A-Wish South Carolina.
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David Markoski of Tega Cay, a York County volunteer with Make-A-Wish, said when he and another volunteer, Jenny Ramsey of Sharon, first came to visit Baylee six months ago to talk about his wish, they asked him what he really wanted and he responded, “a shake maker.”
After more brainstorming with the volunteers, he finally came to the conclusion that his wish was to have a swing set and jungle gym. The set was installed at the home of his grandparents, Sonji and Cotton Robbins.
“He loves to play outside and he loves to play at his grandmother’s house, where he goes after school,” said Markoski. “And he wanted this incredible jungle gym that we built outside at his grandmother’s.”
Tina Rose, who lives nearby, said Baylee’s leukemia has been in remission since October 2008. But she said he still needed to have three years of chemo to make sure the leukemia doesn’t come back.
“He’s done great on it,” she said, although there have been some days of nausea and fatigue. He finished the chemo in October 2011, she said, and the port used to administer the treatment was removed in January.
Rose, who said the last few years have been emotional for her, said the outlook for Baylee is excellent because he had the mildest form of leukemia. He will continue to have monthly blood tests for a few years, she said.
When the family talked with Make-A-Wish, she said they wanted Baylee to have something he could use every day. “We wanted something that he would have, not a trip that he wouldn’t remember as he gets older,” she said.
Baylee said his favorite part of the set he received is the tire swing. “It’s cool,” he said.
Markoski said the volunteers also arranged for Baylee to have his other wish — a shake maker — so he can make his own milkshakes. During Saturday’s Make-A-Wish party, they also enjoyed ice cream and a two-deck cake decorated like a jungle gym set with a slide.
Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with life-threatning medical conditions to enrich their experience with hope and joy. The South Carolina chapter grants more than 130 wishes each year.
Markoski, who enjoys working with the children and their families, said more volunteers are needed to help grant wishes. “It’s pretty neat,” he said of the wish granting, “to see their eyes.”