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2016 CATALOG OF CARING »

A Dream Fulfilled – Becoming a Marine

Tim experiencing basic training.
Ever since Tim was just a little boy, he dreamed of serving his country by joining the military. His cousin, Anthony, was a Marine and would often share stories of being in the service, which inspired Tim to be a Marine himself when he was old enough. 
 
Just before his high school graduation, however, Tim was devastated to learn that his diagnosis of cystic fibrosis prevents him from enlisting and serving in the military. He struggled to accept that he would be unable to fulfill his dream while dealing with the challenging health complications that followed. 
 
However, one day Tim was given the opportunity to have his dream come true with the help of a CFC-supported organization. Soon, Tim was headed off to experience basic training and become a Marine. 
 
From the very start, Tim began to experience Marine life just like all other recruits. Upon arrival, Tim immediately stepped out on to the yellow footprints, the spot where all new recruits stand as they arrive on base for the first time. Tim got his first dose of orders from a drill instructor and began his processing. He filled out paper work, made a phone call to his dad reporting that he arrived for training and received his gear.  
 
“Everything about [it] was awesome, but the highlight for me was when he first walked out in his fatigues,” shares his mom, Tracy. “If we left right then, my dream would have been fulfilled. When he walked out – that was just it. It took my breath away. When I look back at pictures it still brings tears to my eyes.”
 
In the days that followed, Tim experienced firsthand what recruits go through in basic training. He participated in hand-to-hand combat training, swim tests and land navigation, and completed obstacle courses.  In addition to participating in training exercises, Tim and his family also got to tour several of the facilities on-base, see fighter jets up close, observe military dog training and even operate a flight simulator. Even though Tim was battling a pulmonary infection for two days during his trip, he accomplished each challenge with enthusiasm and never stopped smiling.
 
Tim’s cousin, Anthony, who originally inspired Tim’s admiration for the Marines throughout his past 16 years of service, was even able to come to the base to be a part of Tim’s experience in a special way – Tim and his family were there to witness Anthony reenlisting for another four years. 
 
Tim was able to bring home special mementos from his trip, including his military fatigues, boots, aviation suit and other military gear given to him during the training. Each and every moment was filled with joy for Tim, but his favorite part was having the opportunity to get to know the Marines around base on a personal level, and to learn more about their roles. 
 
“The whole wish experience was beyond my expectations. The Marines were so kind and giving,” Tracy says. “After going through this experience, you’re reminded how many good people there are. Tim was very touched by the entire experience, but I also believe that he touched everyone he met there.”
 
Tracy says that the experience gave Tim a whole new outlook on life and a feeling of accomplishment.  
 
“When he returned… it was like the depression was gone,” shares Tracy. “The [experience] helped build his self-esteem and he came home with an ‘I can and I will’ attitude. He came home feeling like he could do anything he set his mind to.”