Anchorage It was the trip of a lifetime says 16-year-old Vincent Benton, "I was like you know I've always wanted to go to Europe."
The Eagle River High School student inspired by his favorite novels. "I've always been a major 'Harry Potter' fan." Said Benton.
Along with his mother and his sister, Vincent was given the opportunity to go on a magical journey from London to Scotland on the Caledonian sleeper train. Which is about as close as you can get to retracing Harry Potters's steps on the way to Hogwarts.
"One of my favorite things about the movies is the scenery on the train ride. Just the whole train ride in general. It's a couple of friends enjoying time together so I wanted to have that feeling of being able to ride in the train with people I like," said Benton.
This may all feel like a bit of wizardry so far but it was the muggle means of the Make A Wish foundations and a surprise phone call to Eileen Rebitski, Vincent's mother, that made it all possible.
"I couldn't figure out why Make A Wish would be calling us so I thought it was probably for advertising. So I was very shocked when she said your son's name was put in and selected for a wish for his heart condition." Said Eileen Rebitski.
Now a teenager Vincent has suffered from health complications since the day he was born. The most serious of them being a heart condition called premature ventricular contractions. That specific malady has to lead to 5 heart surgeries already and there's at least one more scheduled in the next few months.
"We're going to give it one more shot with new technology that's not been used a whole lot... Right now we're kind of at the end of the list of options until a transplant." Said Rebitski.
With health concerns that are scary, stressful, and in someways ever present the opportunity to get away from it all was invaluable.
"I've had a lot going on with my life and there was kind of that little escape I was able to get too. It's very peaceful, I slept like a baby basically overnight. I woke up early to the sunrise in Scotland." Said Benton.
"He was relaxed and he was enjoying himself which was good to see because there was nothing pressing him." Said a smiling Eileen Rebitski.
Now that the trip is over all those same concerns persist and they do weigh heavily upon the family.
"As a parent, you want to fix and help them, and I think that's the hardest thing right now." Said Rebitski.
"The hardest part is just the anticipation I think and seeing how it affects everybody else around me." Said Vincent.
Caring for those around him and how this traumatic situation affects them is part of who this young man is. "We're doing the best we can with this." Said Vincent. Proving that this avid reader has a storybook heart in the face of some difficult real-world challenges.
During the month of June, KTUU has partnered with Make A Wish Alaska and Washington for the 2 Million Mile Challenge to collect airline miles to help send kids on travel wishes once it's safe for the Make A Wish kids to travel again.
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