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South Salt Lake Journal

Make-A-Wish Utah and Nate Wade Subaru Team up to make a child’s wish come true

Jul 07, 2023 10:48AM ● By Jesse M. Gonzalez

Wish kid Henry enjoys the outdoors with a smile. (Photo by Renee Rice)

Make-A-Wish Utah has helped hundreds of children have their wish come true, and for many of those dreams, it could not have been possible without the generosity of Nate Wade Subaru, which donates thousands of dollars to the organization.  

One child who benefited is 11-year-old Henry, who suffers from a congenital heart defect and was surprised with news on May 20 at the Nate Wade Subaru dealership in South Salt Lake that he will get to go to Hawaii to visit Pearl Harbor, his long-time wish since he started to dive into the history of World War II.  

“The Nate Wade Subaru team planned an incredible event called the proclamation and surprised him with the news that his wish is going to be granted,” said Daniel Dudley, chief development officer of Make-A-Wish Utah. “He’s an avid history buff and Nate Wade Subaru had the only Utah living survivor of Pearl Harbor at the event—his name was Ed Carroll and Ed was able to meet Henry and talk about all sorts of historical context about Pearl Harbor and what happened that day when Pearl Harbor was attacked—it was an incredible and unforgettable event for Henry.”

Ed Carroll is 98 years old and during the morning of the event, Carli Claflin, outreach coordinator of Nate Wade Subaru, had received a call letting her know that Ed Carroll’s daughter had unexpectedly passed away the Sunday before. Carroll’s daughter was also his caretaker. Not wanting to disappoint Henry, Carroll managed to make the trip from Kanosh to tell his story to the awestruck boy.

The Nate Wade Subaru dealership, decorated in a Hawaiian theme, presented Henry and his family with a check to cover the expenses of the trip.  

No one had a more profound joy seeing Henry’s smile upon hearing the news than his mother, Renee Rice. “That was amazing,” said Rice. “Henry thought that that was the coolest thing! He is still talking about it.” 

Eleven years ago, and much to Renee Rice’s dismay, Henry was diagnosed with a double inlet left ventricle the day after he was born, leaving the family in pursuit of a solution. 

 The day that Henry’s parents got to bring him home he seemed to have been struggling to breathe so they took him to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). “His twin sister was fine and so she was just with me. Then the next day our pediatrician thought he just had a heart murmur so they ordered an echocardiogram to see what it was—and quickly discovered that there was definitely some major issues going on and so he was taken to Primary Children’s where they had a team of specialists look at him and then diagnose what was actually going on with the structure of his heart,” said Rice, who has a degree in health administrative services and health promotions.

Due to Henry’s heart condition, he hasn’t been able to practice sports as much as he would have liked though doctors recently recommended that he do some mild aerobic exercise.  “He’s just become very interested and active when it comes to hiking,” Rice said. “We go on a hike at least once a week. He chooses the hike, we go, he loves it. He’s created this whole little club with cousins and friends that we now hike once a week.” He also helps his mom with yard work every morning. 

Make-A-Wish Foundation has been around since 1980, raising awareness and funds to children in critical condition to realize their dreams. “All the children are referred either by their legal guardian or someone from their medical team, and so the medical team approves of their wish and confirms that they have a qualifying illness,” said Dudley, who has been with Make-A-Wish Utah since 2012. “Nate Wade Subaru supports Make-A-Wish Utah annually and hosts one of these events each year. We thought that Henry was the perfect recipient to receive his proclamation from Nate Wade Subaru.”

Nate Wade Subaru and Make-A-Wish have been working together since 2016. A major component is the participation in the Subaru of America, Inc.’s Share the Love event which has been the catalyst in the team’s effort to raise the funds needed to actualize the wishes of hopeful children. 

“Subaru’s Share the Love campaign is incredible. They’ve given millions of dollars to charity because of it,” Claflin said. “At Nate Wade Subaru, we are able to have two hometown charities that customers can select for their donation to go to. This year we were incredibly happy to present Make-A-Wish Utah with a check for $33,658 from the Share the Love event.”

“We have 250 children in Utah who are waiting for a wish right now,” Dudley said.  “Nate Wade Subaru is going to continue supporting Make-A-Wish Utah to raise funds for wishes and we are continuing to build partnerships with other companies and businesses and people in Utah so we can say yes to every one of those wishes.”

Henry, who will be starting sixth grade this fall, will travel with his family to Hawaii this summer to see USS Utah in Pearl Harbor and to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center. 

“My hope is that he [Henry] continues to grow healthy and strong and that he can live a long life,” his mom said. “He’s just been amazing—he is the best thing that ever happened to our family—it’s crazy to be grateful for a heart condition, but I feel like he has made us all better people in our family. He is just a blessing to us.” λ