Florida boy wishes to visit N.D.
Six-year-old Artie Riley has one wish -- to visit North Dakota. That wish will come true this Thanksgiving when the Hollywood, Fla., boy living with leukemia arrives in Fargo courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Artie wished to come to Fargo b...
Six-year-old Artie Riley has one wish -- to visit North Dakota.
That wish will come true this Thanksgiving when the Hollywood, Fla., boy living with leukemia arrives in Fargo courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Artie wished to come to Fargo because he wants to see snow for the first time. He also wants to visit his older sister, Brandi Boechler, and her daughter, Morgan, who live in Fargo.
Renee Myhre of the North Dakota Make-A-Wish Foundation said Artie is the first child to use his wish to travel to North Dakota.
"Usually we're sending all our children to Florida, so it's kind of fun to have it the other way around," Myhre said.
This year the foundation sent 12 North Dakota children to Disney World in Florida.
Artie, his three brothers and his mom will arrive in Fargo on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, and stay through Dec. 1.
Rose Riley said her son's wish surprised her.
"I thought he'd be happy with a Toys R Us shopping spree," she said. "Had I known, I would have said, 'Hawaii, Hawaii.' "
Doctors diagnosed Artie with leukemia on Aug. 25, his first day of kindergarten. Rose took him to the hospital after he passed out at the bus stop.
Artie was in the hospital for 11 days, including Sept. 4, his sixth birthday.
He is now undergoing chemotherapy. After four years of chemo, doctors say Artie could be cured for life, said his sister, Brandi.
"They (doctors) say they have high expectations that by 18 he doesn't even have to look back," Boechler said.
Boechler, 29, worries more about her mother than Artie. Rose has lung cancer and Boechler is concerned Artie's health may strain her even more.
But the Thanksgiving trip gives everyone something to look forward to, Rose said.
Boechler, a lab technician at Roger Maris Cancer Center, has lived in North Dakota for 10 years. This will be her family's first visit.
"I haven't had a holiday with my daughter in over 10 years," Rose said.
Artie is hoping for a lot of snow so he can make a snowman and snow angels. His brothers, Kory, Dustin and Gary, saw snow flurries in Michigan about six years ago, but are anxious to see more, Rose said.
Make-A-Wish is coordinating various activities, including ice skating and snowmobiling, Myrhe said. Artie will drop the opening puck for a Fargo-Moorhead Jets hockey game and will see a private movie showing at the Fargo Theatre.
Myrhe is asking people to put up Christmas lights early so Artie can go on a tour of lights.
But the family doesn't need an itinerary to enjoy Artie's wish, Rose said.
"It's going to be really special for us to be together on Thanksgiving," Rose said. "We have a lot to be grateful for."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590