CougCenter partnering with Make-A-Wish

Trystian Nusser: leukemia battler and wish receiver.

We'll be participating in the annual Walk For Wishes fundraiser to raise money for the best gift of all: Hope. We set a $1,000 goal and crushed it. We've fully funded one wish at $5,000. What the heck -- let's fund two! Will you join us?

EDIT, 7/27, 8:08 p.m.: I'm literally speechless. And if you know me, you know that's crazy uncharacteristic. Why am I speechless? We not only blew past the first goal of $1,000 ... we not only crushed the second goal of $2,000 ...

We have now fully funded one wish at $5,000. So, I guess the next logical step?

Let's see if we can fund two wishes! If you haven't yet had a chance to donate, you can do that here!

If you've been a regular visitor of the site for some time, you know that I have three young sons, one of whom -- Trystian (pronounced: Tristin), above -- suffers from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

If you didn't know that ... well, that's pretty much by design; nobody visits CougCenter to hear about my sick kid. That's why I created this site, where you can read all about it if that's something you'd like to follow.

However, I'm going to break from that today and talk to you about him.

Even as we struggled for the past year with what it means to have a child with cancer, my family has been so blessed in so many ways by so many people. We've often talked about exploring ways that we can "pay it forward," so to speak. That wasn't really feasible in the months after Trystian's initial diagnosis, given the intensity of his treatments and the uncertainty of his future. But we've now reached a point where things have slowed down, his prognosis is still good, and we're ready to jump in to help others.

That's why I'm sharing the following with you. And yes, as you probably could tell from the headline, I'm going to ask you for money. Hopefully you'll keep reading to find out why!

Make-A-Wish and The Nussers

One of the ways we've been blessed is through Make-A-Wish, an organization that does "one thing: grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy." The wishes are as unique as the kids themselves; if they can dream it, Make-A-Wish tries to make it happen, such as Gage becoming a cop for a day, or Micah getting out of a wheelchair to become a ballerina, or Lauren having her car fitted with adaptive technology so she could drive again using her prosthetic limbs.

Since my son was three when he started the Wish process, all he could talk about was Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which he watched on the TV and on the iPad as he rested during and in between chemo treatments. So, last month, Make-A-Wish teamed up with Alaska Airlines and Disneyland to provide an all-expenses-paid trip to California for him. (Thankfully, he decided he wanted to bring his older brother and have his parents chaperone, so I got to go, too.)

Trystian had a wonderful, amazing experience, which you can fully read about here. We stayed at Disney's Paradise Pier hotel, spent two days at Disneyland and California Adventure, and even found time to hang out at Trystian's first California beach.

While he's now 4, Trystian is still too young to truly understand the nature of the disease he's so bravely battling. He does know that clinic days -- when he doesn't get to eat breakfast, then is poked and sedated -- aren't a lot of fun, he knows that taking chemo pills every night "sucks," and he knows that there are many other days when he just doesn't feel very good, but can't really explain why. Trystian's trip to California provided him a time away where he could just relax and be a normal kid in pretty much whatever way he wanted. Thanks to Make-A-Wish, we rarely had to say no.

Corndogs for, like, every meal? "Sure."

Star Wars bath toys? "Why not."

Ice cream? "OK!"

A pass that gets us to the front of any Disneyland ride line we want?!?

Yep. Had one of those. (Side note: Already dreading going back to Disneyland someday without it.)

There was more, and again, you can read about it, or watch the video I made (right). Just know that it was amazing -- so amazing, we want to give back to Make-A-Wish.

This is where you come in!

As a writer at CougCenter, I'm in a unique position relative to most other Wish parents: I have a huge platform at my disposal with a passionate community that I believe would embrace the opportunity to give to support the mission of Make-A-Wish.

Because we want other kids and other families to also receive the empowering experience of a wish granted -- and because the priceless joy from a wish come true actually does come with a cost -- our family is participating in the annual Walk For Wishes fundraiser on Sept. 15.

We have set what I believe to be a fairly modest fundraising goal of $1,000. My hope is that I can raise that money (and a lot more) and then proudly thump my chest about how a bunch of readers from an oddly named WSU Cougars fan site helped make Wishes come true.

Thank you in advance for donating! (Use the "Give Now" button on the right of the donation page so it gets credited to us.)

If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments. And feel free to go explore the Make-A-Wish of Alaska and Washington site for more Wish stories. The work they do is incredible, and I'm proud to be associated with -- and support -- Make-A-Wish.

I hope you feel the same way.

EDIT, 11:22 p.m.: So, I vastly underestimated you all. We blew past $1,000 in the first six hours this post was up on the site. So, I went ahead and upped the goal to $2,000 ... and as I get ready to go to bed, we sit at nearly $1,700. In less than 12 hours, you all have donated nearly double what I thought we might be able to do. I'm just blown away, and truly humbled.

You know what the magical mark is? $5,000. That's the average cost of one wish. I'm starting to wonder if we shouldn't set our sites on that!

EDIT, 7/26, 9:03 a.m.: OK, $2,000 just got crushed. Since you all insist, $5,000 it is!

EDIT, 7/27, 8:06 a.m.: Uh, wow. We're now over $4,000! This is amazing. Thank you all.

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Trystian with his Wish Granters Lou and Lori (and his brother, Joshua) outside the Alaska Airlines gate at SeaTac.

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