By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer
— Seven-year-old Ryan Beining likes drawing, Legos and playing baseball. But his real love? Camping.
Ryan’s dad, Nate, said his son has wanted to own a camper of his own for years so the family could sit around camp fires, go fishing, make s’mores and generally have a good time.
And doing things like that have meant more to the family since doctors found a cancerous tumor on Ryan’s brain last year. He has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments every two weeks in Indianapolis.
But there will be plenty of camping, fishing and family time in Ryan’s future. The nonprofit group Make-A-Wish surprised the Taylor Elementary School first-grader with a brand new, 25-foot travel trailer on Saturday.
Nate said he and his wife, Anita, found out their make-a-wish request with the organization would be granted last month but had to keep a lid on the news until Saturday, when they drove down to Greenfield to pick up their Gulf Stream Ameri-Lite camper.
Nate said they told Ryan they had to go to Greenfield so his mom could go to an appointment. While they were there, he told Ryan they could stop by Mount Comfort RV, a camper dealership in the area, to browse around the trailers and maybe pick up a camper part his uncle needed.
Ryan bought into the story, no questions asked.
When they arrived at the dealership, Nate and Ryan went into the office and asked to look around at the campers. An employee took them back to the Gulf Stream and let Ryan go inside.
Ryan came out, and the employee asked him if he liked it. Ryan said yes. Would he like a trailer like that? Yes.
Then he told Ryan it was his.
“He was totally overwhelmed,” Nate said Tuesday. “He couldn’t believe it. It took a while for it to sink in. But when it did, he just started jumping around.”
Allison Loper, who works for Make-A-Wish, was also there, and said it was a joy to see Ryan find out the trailer was his.
“Seeing the look on Ryan’s face was so priceless,” she said with a laugh.
There was another surprise, too. Both sets of Ryan’s grandparents, and even his great-grandparents, made the trip to the dealership before he arrived and hid in the back of the store.
After they gave him the trailer, they all came out to hug and congratulate Ryan.
“He couldn’t wait to show all of them the camper and walk them through it,” Nate said.
And there was a lot to show. The camper has a bathroom, shower, sink, stove, microwave, dining table and sleeps eight people.
“It’s a really, really nice trailer,” he said.
After that, Nate hooked it up to the back of his truck, and the family hauled it back to Kokomo, where it’s now parked out in front of their house.
Ryan slept in the camper Saturday night with his dad and younger brother, Zach, camping out on the street.
“He must have been pretty tired from all the excitement that day because he fell asleep in five minutes,” Nate said with a laugh.
Nate said the plan is to use the camper every weekend the family has free. He said they have trips scheduled to camp out with family in Ohio and at a Jellystone Park campground in September for Ryan’s birthday.
“It’s really great for Ryan to have some fun things to look forward to,” Nate said.
Even though Ryan has a brain tumor, Nate said he’s still going to school and playing little league baseball.
“He’s taking it pretty well,” he said. “He’s battled through all his treatments, and he’s holding up pretty well. Right now there aren’t too many side effects.”
And as long as Ryan keeps battling, Nate said there will always be camping.
“Ryan wished for a travel trailer because he loves to camp and explore the outdoors,” he said. “And his wish has been granted. We thank Make-A-Wish for making his dream come true.”
Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He can be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.