Eight-year-old Isaac King of Rhinelander, Wisconsin is preparing to be a firefighter one day, and says the Northern Lights are “the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.” Isaac is also battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. With help from the Rhinelander Fire Department and the Make-a-Wish Foundation, earlier this year Isaac accomplished his goal of visiting Alaska and seeing the Aurora in person.
During his Alaskan adventure, Isaac also asked to learn about Alaska Native culture and traditions. On March 11, the Morris Thompson Center welcomed Isaac and his family for a special visit. Denakkanaaga Executive Director Sharon McConnell brought together elders and the Fairbanks Native Association Youth Dancers in the elders’ living room. The youth introduced themselves in their Native languages, shared traditional songs and dances, and explained the significance of their traditional clothing, jewelry, and instruments. The Denakkanaaga elders presented Isaac with a kuspuk they made for him in a bright Aurora Borealis print. Everyone remained together in the living room for a long time, talking and sampling Native snacks including salmon, blueberry jam, and pilot bread. Hearts and tummies full, Isaac and his family then explored the Center’s exhibits and took in a film about the Northern Lights. Finally, Explore Fairbanks and APLIC provided a goody-bag full of information and souvenirs for Isaac and his family to take home enjoy.
According to “Wishful Thinking,” the official newsletter of Make-a-Wish Wisconsin, during his visit “Isaac was able to spend time with his family, relax, have fun, and experience something he had never seen before. He came back with a new sense of strength to push through treatments and continue battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and live life to the fullest. He and his family agreed that it was the trip of a lifetime!”