FRANKLIN — On Friday evening on the soft, graceful waters of Lake Carmi, one little fisherman’s greatest wish came true: at age six, Jayden Krause became the proud owner of his very own 2021 model Suntracker Bass Buggy Pontoon Boat.
“He’s wanted this for a pretty long time,” said mother Melinda Quesnel.
The black, red and silver of the Suntracker gleamed in the afternoon sun as friends, family and members of the Make-A-Wish Foundation draped a colorful banner picturing a beaming Krause holding his catch aloft over the craft alongside the words “Jayden! Your Wish has been granted! Happy fishing!”
When his blindfold was removed, stars lit Krause’s eyes in sheer wonder.
“What the…” he stammered.
According to Make-A-Wish Foundation, Krause has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common cancer affecting children, discovered when strange bruises appeared on his legs when he was just three years old.
“He went through chemotherapy, radiation and we even celebrated my birthday in the hospital room,” said his uncle Brandon Quesnel. “It was a good half a year...but he was so great through it all. It brought a lot of other people closer to him, too. We all came together.”
Since then Melinda and Krause have fought hard and weathered the storms of surgeries, learning to walk again, and months on end spent in the hospital where the two would live almost full-time.
“There was one time that was pretty bad,” Melinda said. “We almost lost him. It was his port surgery and he was bloated, and he ended up having a bronchial spasm, so he couldn’t breathe on his own. He was on a ventilator for weeks. There was no strength left in his legs -- he had to learn how to walk again.”
Their trials only worsened with the onset of the COVID pandemic -- but through illness, hardship, loneliness and uncertainty, the family persevered and met every challenge with courage, finding new ways to welcome joy into their lives.
For Krause, as always, that meant fishing, his favorite thing in the world.
“He’ll go out every day, any moment he gets,” Brandon said. “I don’t know if it's the calmness of the water or what, but he just loves it.”
“We only just introduced him to ice fishing last year,” Melinda said. “And he caught a massive northern pike!”
As Krause fished from the Vermont shorelines, though, the smaller fish he caught became smaller and smaller in his eyes: he had bigger dreams of catching mightier fish, venturing into the deeper waters and casting a hopeful line.
But Krause was land-bound with no boat to carry him to the watery depths where his chosen prey swam free. That is until Friday evening, when Krause stood in shock and awe gazing at his beautiful new vessel that had waited until now to secure her maiden voyage, waiting for the perfect captain.
With quiet tears in his lake-blue eyes, Krause carefully traced the patterns of the Suntracker’s leather, bright chrome and gleaming paint and took his place at the wheel, careful not to corrupt the majestic posture of something so beautiful.
Something that now, at age 6, he could rightfully call his own, a dream realized, and a miracle fulfilled.
That’s what wish-granters do, though: as modern-day fairy godmothers, those at the Make-A-Wish Foundation find no wish too small, and no obstacle too great to bring the dreams of others to brilliant, vibrant life.
Now armed with his brand new fishing pole, tackle box and a new frontier to discover, Krause dreams of the catch that draws ever closer to his lure, waiting for Lake Carmi’s newest voyager and his perfect cast.
And on Friday, he gazed out onto the placid water with a bright hunger for his newest horizon, from the helm of the perfect boat.