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Make-A-Wish Foundation smiles on one young Wadena boy

Photos by Brian Hansel Carpenters Justin Cameron, left, and Andy Pomeroy construct a Woodplay Outback 5 play set Tuesday on the Jon and Shelly Snyder farm near Wadena. The play set is a gift from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.1 / 2
Luke Snyder receives a push on the swing Tuesday afternoon from his brother, Alex. The Make-A-Wish Foundation presented the 7-year-old Wadena boy with a play set2 / 2

A wish came true for Luke Snyder on Tuesday afternoon.

The 7-year-old Wadena boy was on the receiving end of a fabulous Make-A-Wish gift - a Woodplay Outback 5 play set, which carpenters put up in his yard.

Luke was born with CHARGE Syndrome, a genetic disorder that brings about physical and mental handicaps. His parents, Jon and Shelly Snyder, live four miles southwest of Wadena. Jon drives for United Parcel Service and Shelly is a stay-at-home mom. Luke has a sister, Taylor, and two brothers, Josh and Alex.

"When Luke was born it was life-changing for us," Shelly said. "Every day that Luke is healthy is good for us."

Make-a-Wish is made possible by groups like Wadena's Kruzin 4 Kidz motorcycle club. Their fund-raising efforts in the Adopt-A-Wish program feed the internationally-famous Make-a-Wish program.

Make-A-Wish was started in 1980 by Frank and Kitty Shankwitz. Within three years the organization went international. The success of Make-A-Wish has been extraordinary. That every 40 seconds the organization grants a wish somewhere in the world.

The Kruzin 4 Kidz motorcycle ride will be held Aug. 18, during which Frank Shankwitz will be in Wadena. A meet and greet with him will be held 4-7 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Wadena Elks Lodge. Shankwitz will also visit Pillager and Hewitt.

Kruzin 4 Kidz was founded in 2006 and has raised and donated more than $75,000 in granting 14 wishes. Kruzin 4 Kidz was able to donate $18,000 to the Make-A-Wish of Minnesota Foundation in 2010 and 2011 - records for the club and a statewide record for Make-A-Wish charity rides.

Kruzin 4 Kidz board member Dan Sunstrom was on hand Tuesday for a ceremony marking Luke's entrance into the Make-a-Wish family.

"What makes it special for us is that we get to see right up front and share in the enjoyment of it," Sunstrom said.

Karen Umland is a Make-a-Wish volunteer grantor. Umland has already put on six different presentations this year in the area, and considers the work special.

"It's very, very rewarding," Umland said.

Shelly smiled broadly Tuesday as she watched the play set going up. She describes her son as a very happy, active boy who loves to "rough-house" with dad and play with other kids.

"This will allow him to exercise his muscles," Shelly said. "This is awesome."