CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Being afflicted with Leukemia usually means repeated hospital visits and Chemotherapy treatments, but to Charity for Charity it was an opportunity to give 7-year-old Baden a chance to out of the hospital bed and fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I’ve always wanted to ride in a tank,” said Baden.
Baden was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia December 10, 2010, when he was 5-years-old. After a little over a year of intensive chemotherapy he was declared in remission, but unfortunately during one of his routine clinical visits doctors found that the leukemia was back in his spinal fluid. He started a new round of chemotherapy in an attempt to get it back in remission.
Charity for Charity brought Baden, his family, and friends to Pendleton where they met with Cpl. Trevon S. Peracca for a tour of the base. Peracca, the tour guide, is the community relations chief for base Public Affairs Office here.
The tour began with a stop at the Marine Corps Exchange where Baden was dressed up in a Marine Corps uniform and received souvenirs.
After the exchange the guests visited the World War II and Korean Landing Vehicle Tracked Museum, where the room filled with “Wow!” and “Look at this!” as Baden and his friends ran from one display to another.
The tour then took the guests to see a demonstration by the military working dogs, which had special meaning for his mother, Casi Mayo.
“One time when Baden was very sick and I could not get him to do his breathing treatment, I asked him what I could do to persuade him to do it, he told me ‘nothing’,” said Casi. “Then I asked him ‘what about a German Sheppard puppy?’ he replied with ‘right now? I’ll do it!’ and began his treatment, he is so funny sometimes.”
The tour concluded with the main event; the tank ride. Baden and his father, Chris Mayo, rode on the tank, while members of 4th Tank Battalion drove them on the beach.
“My favorite part was turning around in the tank!” Baden said with excitement after his tank ride.
His mother enjoyed watching Baden’s day as much as he enjoyed it himself.
“My favorite part of the day was seeing Baden get excited when he saw the tank,” Casi added as she smiled at her son. “It was so exciting to see him that happy.”
One of the greatest moments for Casi was just getting away from the normal routine of being in and out of hospitals.
“We have had so many hard things over the years, it was nice to just have fun,” said Casi. “We didn’t have to take any shots, do anything hard, or wait for something terrible to happen; which is what we are normally doing.”
That feeling is exactly what Charity for Charity strives for, according to Charity Prestifilippo.
“Our organization fulfills wishes for individuals with specials needs,” said Prestifilippo. “So when we get to fulfill a wish for an individual who has a disease like Badens, we are able to give them a day away from the pain or the hospital. We let them do something they wouldn’t usually do and give them great memories.”
The day was emotional for everyone involved, according to Prestifilippo.
“Today was beyond our expectations,” said Prestifilippo. “A tank ride was something that he wanted and when you think about it, you don’t realize how many people it takes to put that together. Seeing what all (the Marines) did when I got here made me cry, it is so special. It was more than a tank ride; it was a phenomenal experience.”