Twelve-year-old Aiden, from Pinedale, loves to explore the outdoors with his family and friends.
But Aiden was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that affects the control of muscle movement. He uses a wheelchair, which limits how much he could enjoy an outdoor adventure.
So when the 12-year-old Pinedale resident learned that he was eligible for a wish from Make-A-Wish Wyoming, which grants wishes to Wyoming children with critical illnesses, his ideas centered on exploration. He considered wishing to go on an African safari or try fly fishing in Alaska.
Ultimately, though, Aiden decided to wish for something that would bring him closer to his family, his friends and his hometown. He knew that he wanted to spend more time exploring the wild places around Pinedale and Wyoming with the people closest to him.
That’s why he decided to wish for a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle – one that would allow him to safely navigate the rugged terrain that Wyoming is known for.
Make-A-Wish Wyoming asked local Polaris dealer Bucky’s Outdoors LLC to help make Aiden’s wish became a reality, and the business more than delivered. While Bucky’s staff engineered the vehicle to suit Aiden’s needs, his family kept the entire operation a secret.
One Sunday morning in June, though, Aiden’s parents took the family to Bucky’s, telling Aiden they’d just be looking at vehicles. When they arrived, though, it didn’t take long for Aiden to realize that he would be doing much more than browsing.
Make-A-Wish volunteers were waiting along with Bucky’s staff to celebrate an important day – the day Aiden’s wish for a side-by-side would be granted. He entered the room to cheers from his family and other supporters, and he grinned as he realized what it all meant.
“It took him a minute to process the experience,” shared Aiden’s father, Darren. “He slowly put it together, and then he was on cloud nine.”
Then, Aiden selected a helmet from the shelves at Bucky’s, and finally he climbed into the bucket seats in the cab of his shiny new Polaris Razer 570. It was a moment Aiden and his family will never forget.
After the celebration, Aiden’s father joined his son in the side-by-side for the trip home. They took the same route they always did, but when Darren glanced over to see his son grinning in the passenger seat, he knew that Aiden’s wish had already started to break down barriers.
“You could tell the world felt different to him, even though we were just driving on the road home,” Darren remembered. “He was sitting in a position with a different perspective than he’s had before. “
Now, Aiden and his family have big plans to explore new corners of Wyoming together, and he will be able to spend time with friends outdoors. His wish brought him closer to the people and natural settings he loves.
“This side-by-side opens a whole other door for exploration,” Darren said. “It allows Aiden to go places he was never able to go before.”