GUMBORO — One of Liam Myrick’s wishes was to touch a shark.
The 5-year-old Missouri boy who is terminally ill with stage-4 neuroblastoma certainly touched the hearts of folks in Sussex County.
Down-home Sussex County hospitality last week brought smiles to the faces of 5-year-old Liam and hundreds of supporters - along with some tears.
“He wanted to see the beach, touch a shark, and ride a John Deere tractor,” said Josh Wharton, among the organizers of this wish-granting effort facilitated by the Good Ole Boys Foundation.
On the evening of Aug. 18, Ellis Farms near in Gumboro was the staging venue for a massive tractor parade featuring many area farmers.
Liam got to ride in a gargantuan John Deere combine.
The day before, organizers took Liam shark fishing with Chet Porches but they had no luck landing a shark.
No problem. Up to the plate stepped Bev and Stormy Harrington, who catches sharks for museums and aquariums.
“He just happened to have one left in his holding tank that was due to leave on Tuesday morning (Aug. 19),” said Mr. Wharton. “After a long night at the parade, the family got up early and traveled to Ocean City.”
In Ocean City, the Foundation’s photographer and main contributor, Ashley Holloway met them and snapped pictures of Liam touching a tiger shark. Ms. Holloway also met Liam and his family on the Ocean City beach for family pictures — the first family photographs taken professionally since Liam’s diagnosis in July 2011.
Photos and videos were taken for Liam’s family as keepsakes for years to come.
Courtesy of Miken Builders, Liam and his family arrived on Delmarva in a private jet and they stayed in an oceanfront beach house in Bethany, also provided by Miken.
“They also flew over NYC on the way here as a bonus,” said Mr. Wharton. “The plane was stocked with food and drinks, and when the family got to the house, they found food already there for them, home cooked meals for them to warm up, and gift-cards for local restaurants.”
This grant-wishing effort was put together in just over a week and its success was made possible by many people.
It all began Aug. 7 when Nicole McFadyen, who is a friend of Liam's family, came to Mr. Wharton and asked “if we could help. She told me about his wishes, his illness, and so the phone calls started.”
As for the tractor ride “I knew we could make that happen ... but in true Sussex County fashion, we needed to do a little better than that,” said Mr. Wharton.
His first call was to fellow farmer D.W. Horsey from Horsey Farms, and the decision was made to throw a tractor parade/party.
A call to Ray Ellis of Ellis Farms secured the staging venue and calls were made to other area farmers to participate.
The party featured moon-bounces, pork burger and dogs prepared by Kevin Miller, who started cooking at 4 a.m., tractors, combines, sprayers, monster trucks and more. A fireworks show capped the event, attended by an estimated 500 to 600 people.
In addition, several thousand dollars was raised for Liam and his family, who returned home Thursday.
“They definitely have made a bunch of memories here, all thanks to the great community we all live in every day,” said Mr. Wharton. “I sure am going to miss that little guy.”
News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at 629-5505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.