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Stories of Light tug at heartstrings

Stories of Light

November 8, 2016

From the Casper Journal

There is a lot going on at Saturday’s 14th annual Stories of Light Gala to benefit Make-A-Wish Wyoming. But then, it takes a lot to fund the 30 children throughout the state who are waiting for their wishes to be granted.

Limited tickets are still available at $90 each, as are sponsorship opportunities.

The multi-part event will be hosted for the second year by The Hangar in Bar Nunn, which was not yet even open to the public last fall when the event was held there. The now-finished space can accommodate the nearly 400 guests that organizers expect to attend.

“When Stories of Light started, it was tied to the lighting of the wooden derrick (at First and Poplar streets),” Make-A-Wish CEO Morgan Legerski explained. “That is no longer the case, but we decided to keep the name for the historical factor, and we still share the wish stories of the children.”

As patrons arrive prior to 6 p.m., there will be wine tasting from Poplar Wine & Spirits and light hors d’oeuvres served. The raffle is a wine pull, with tickets one for $5 or five for $20. Winners will pull from five bottles of wrapped wine, which will include one “extra special bottle.”

As guests mingle, they will see six exhibits highlighting wishes of Wyoming children, ranging from a trip to space camp and a trip to Greece to being a mermaid and renovating a car.

“This is a way to celebrate wishes from last year,” said community relations coordinator Tess Kersenbrock. “There will be artifacts from each wish set up like a museum exhibit, so people can really experience that wish.” In most cases, the children will be present to explain the exhibits.

Ben Lucas is 16 and a junior at Cheyenne Central High School. In early June, he, his parents, Carrie and Chris, and sister, Lauren, 12, took a Make-A-Wish trip to Greece.

“I have always been interested in Greek mythology and really wanted to go and see all the ruins and travel to a different country,” he said.

He found out about the trip in October 2015, when he was just about to end a year of treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma in his right leg.

“I was just getting walking again when I found out, and I was on crutches, so I had plenty of time to plan and get stronger,” he said.

He gets scans every six months, and for the past three or four scans, “there is no evidence of the disease,” he said.

In addition to chemotherapy, he underwent “limb salvage surgery,” in which a large part of his femur was removed and replaced with an internal prosthesis made of stainless steel alloy.

“That pretty much acts as my knee and femur,” he said. “I had multiple options, but I thought that this was the best one to go with, because it wouldn’t look like a prosthesis and it gave me a chance to play sports again.”

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He still can’t run, but is working toward that, and was thrilled to play in one fall ball baseball game this season.

“Basically I just stood there and hit a little bit, but it was great,” he said.

Of Greece, Ben said, “It’s beautiful there. We had an amazing time and saw really cool things – ruins that have been there for thousands and thousands of years. We got to see what life was like halfway across the world, how different it was and how similar it was. It was really a very, very interesting and fascinating trip.”

The gala’s exhibits give guests and donors a chance to experience the joy and impact of granted wishes.

“We always talk about wishes. We thought it would be great for someone to step into that moment,” Legerski said of the exhibits.

Guests will be given museum “passports,” and as they visit each exhibit and chat with the children, the passport will be stamped. A completed passport is good for one free ticket into the wine pull.

Dinner will be provided by The Hangar, and during the program that follows, a number of people will be recognized, including the volunteer of the year, board and staff. Brian Scott Gamroth, who was killed in a September motorcycle crash, will be posthumously presented with the community partnership award.

Once the auction begins, folks will have a chance to fund a wish at whatever level they feel comfortable.

Live auction packages include a “Year of Dates,” with 12 local activities and an accompanying meal. Examples include a hot air balloon ride and breakfast, Wyoming Symphony Orchestra and Broadway in Casper tickets, and Casper College basketball and CNFR tickets.

“Every husband should probably buy this for his wife,” Legerski laughed.

The staff is also very excited about the “Sip of Wyoming,” auction item, which includes products from distilleries, breweries and wineries all located in the state, displayed on a custom-made bar cart by craftsman Travus Clair of Flush Custom Woodcraft of Casper.

“We’re excited for the community to come and celebrate the wishes granted to children in Wyoming,” Legerski said.

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