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Make-A-Wish: Liam’s pathway to a smile

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 7:55 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On a crisp Anchorage day, the kind that used to keep him confined at home, a 7-year-old child named Liam Williams enjoys a series of rides around a path at his house.

“Liam loves to get outside,” said Darlene Williams, the child’s mother. However, she noted his physical constraints haven’t always made it an easy task to accomplish.

“Liam sufferers with a syndrome called Allen-Herndon-Dudely Syndrome, which affects the blood, some of his blood not having access to the needed muscles,” the mother said, and noted the rare condition keeps Liam Williams immobile, requiring him to use a wheelchair.

Although he loves to be outside, his wishes to experience the outdoors were not always possible due to a lack of usable pathways or sidewalks for his wheelchair near his home. Fortunately, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was able to help grant his wish with a little manual labor.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Make-A-Wish trips were shut down in 2020, but what could help Liam most, in the eyes of his family and handlers, was something that could be done right here in town.

“We really wanted to get him out doing stuff, so as the team started coming up with ideas for Make-A-Wish, somebody said ‘hey, how about a trail,’,” Darlene Williams said.

With the help of volunteers, a large pathway was built that begins and ends right at the foot of Liam Williams’ wheelchair ramp. It extends around the entire property and includes a gazebo of sorts along the way titled “Fort Liam.”

“I’ve never worked on a wish for a backyard path before,” said Brook Pigg, a wish and community advancement coordinator for the foundation. “It was really fun to get creative and see what we would be able to provide Liam Williams and his family.”

The pathway is said to be beneficial for the child year-round. The paved surface allows him to ride along the path with ease. And during the winter, it’s easier to shovel the pathway allowing handlers to push Liam Williams on his sled with less effort.

“The one thing that I love about Liam’s wish is that he gets to enjoy it whenever he wants. It’s not over in a week, he’s been able to go over to our sledding hill with the other kids and just enjoy being a family, being part of this 365 days out of the year if he wants to,” Darlene Williams said. “When he is out on his sled, or if he is in his chair, he certainly seems to be happy as he flashes a big smile and laughs along the pathway. There’s a little boy in there regardless of his issues and he loves life.”

While Liam Williams’ wish didn’t require any travel, the foundation is in the middle of its annual mileage drive to help send other children on trips to experience their dreams. If you would like to donate to Make-A-Wish they accept both airline miles and cash.

So far, they have raised 306,848 miles, according to Hannah Moderow, a communications and marketing manager for the foundation. The foundation’s goal is to reach 1 million miles with this drive.

Pigg also said that once miles are donated to the foundation, they never expire, so if at any point you have airline miles that otherwise would disappear, donating them could be a more charitable option.

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