One wish - many thanks
Make-a-Wish Foundation brings smiles to local family

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

It was a day to remember for the Vogel family of Olean and in particular 10-year-old Luke, who was granted a wish through the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

On Thursday, July 30 a sleek black limousine driven by Bob Michaels Sr., pulled into the driveway of the Vogel residence. Luke and his family, parents Brian and Ann, and siblings, Matt, 18, Jacob, 15, and Jessica, 8, were whisked into the luxury limo for the ride of a lifetime.

At the Dearborn/Ripley County line, another sleek, black vehicle, driven by Deputy Mike Fogle of the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department, led the caravan east on US 50 with lights flashing. The police escort was doubled near Aurora with Aurora Assistant Police Chief Dennis Lewis taking the lead.

“Luke was thrilled,” noted his mother, as the police escort guided them through Aurora with no interruptions.

The final destination was Wal-Mart where Luke received a celebrity status welcome complete with a huge banner, balloons, and a large crowd clapping as he disembarked the limo.

Luke and his family were welcomed by manager Ryan Curtis where he was declared the number one guest of the day. He was given an official Wal-Mart badge, hat and plaque along with a huge cake that said “Hope you have a wonderful wish”, to mark the occasion.

Luke had been granted his wish of an electronic shopping trip to Wal Mart that amounted to $2000 ($1750 from the Make-a-Wish Foundation and $250 from Wal-Mart). Woodforest Bank kicked in another $25.00 gift certificate and each of Luke’s siblings received a $50 gift card from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Any child between the ages of two and 18 who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition is eligible to make a wish. The child’s doctor will refer them to the foundation where they meet with volunteers to determine the wish and set the wheels in motions to make it come true.

For the Vogels the journey that qualified Luke for the wish began five years ago when he was just five years of age.

Ann told the Osgood Journal “he (Luke) had fallen and was complaining of headaches. He said, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to swim - my head hurts.’” Ann remembered. She said she knew something had to be wrong because he never missed an opportunity to swim and hated to quit when the day was done.

From there it was a short series of doctors, tests and within days Luke’s parents were given the news that he had a tumor on or near his brain stem that had to be removed.

The fall had nothing to do with the tumor except when he was checked out, they found it. “It was a blessing in disguise,” Ann said.

The tumor was the size of an egg but was benign, meaning Luke would not have to go through chemotherapy or radiation treatments. However, the situation was grave after he sustained double renal failure post surgery.

The little guy pulled through only to face another challenge two years later when the family would learn the tumor was growing back.

Ann did her homework and researched Dr. Kerry Crone, the surgeon she would trust her son’s life to. The second procedure was more tedious than the first, and the family knew one wrong move would mean Luke could have died.

“He’s our little miracle,” Ann said as she smiled at her son shopping at Wal-Mart. She had high praise for the surgeon whose expertise was second to none. “He genuinely cares. He was good with Luke and us answering our questions even before we asked,” Ann noted. “He saved Luke’s life.”

The surgery left Luke with a promising prognosis, he would live, but faces challenges daily.

“It was so hard,” Ann remembered. She said Luke went to sleep (before the surgery) and was able to run and play. When he woke up, he couldn’t do any of it.” He has permanent double vision, has many symptoms of someone who has had a stroke and is wheelchair bound.

The daily struggle of getting Luke to therapy at the Drake Center in Ohio and taking care of her family was almost too much, Ann noted. “One day my sister called and I was just sobbing.” Her sister rolled into action and soon Ann was connected with LifeTime Resources in Dillsboro, who “has been a lifesaver” according to Ann. Ann runs a daycare center out of her home and her husband farms and works full time at Hill Rom.

Many people were instrumental in helping the Vogel family as they determined to do everything they could to strengthen the qualify of life for their young son.

“Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati was wonderful,” Ann said. But, the Make-a-Wish Foundation put the icing on the cake - literally!

With all of the ups and downs of the past five years, last Thursday was a definite high.

Although Luke’s physical condition keeps him from smiling on the outside, he was smiling on the inside as he picked out a flat screen TV for his bedroom, a Wii with many games, videos and much more.

Wal-Mart employees rallied around the family making Luke’s wish their command. Also, Make-a-Wish volunteer Sandie Blessing was on hand to make the process smooth. She was appreciative of the many donors who make the foundation a reality. “People give so much,” the 10-year volunteer told the Osgood Journal.

The foundation is supported through local donations from individuals, corporations, small businesses, civic organizations and clubs, churches, schools, memorial contributions, foundations and special fundraisers by the foundation itself.

That money is then put to good use with a record 800 wishes to grant this year alone.

What does it mean for a family to receive this fabulous wish? “Everything, I can’t explain how much it means,” Ann said.

After so much fear, sadness, anticipation, the Make-a-Wish Foundation is the rainbow at the end of the rain.
Luke and his family enjoyed the day that kept bringing surprises like a meal at Luke’s favorite eatery - McDonald’s and coupons for later visits, a large cake for everyone at Wal-Mart to enjoy and another decorated in Luke’s favorite cartoon, Sponge Bob Squarepants - to take home. Wal-Mart employees even took the family’s camera and developed their pictures while they had lunch.

The limo driver professionally swept the family back inside the waiting vehicle where all their purchases had been taken and took them back to their home in Olean.

The day was one they’ll remember always - a day with enough stardust to keep the wish alive for years to come.

“We thank everyone, just everyone,” Ann concluded.

To find out more about the Make-a-Wish Foundation you can call 513-745-9474, 513-745-9660 or go online:

Above, Luke Vogel, 10, gets a surprise at the end of his shopping trip at Wal-Mart from Make-a-Wish Foundation volunteer Sandie Blessing. It was a cake decorated with his favorite cartoon characters, SpongeBob Squarepants. He and his family were welcomed (below) to Wal-Mart by Manager Ryan Curtis for the shopping spree as they arrived via limo complete with a police escort.