MERRILLVILLE | Mason Biernat carefully removed the blue bow and the wrapping paper from the gift he received at Thursday’s Make A Dream Come True luncheon at The Patio Restaurant.
Mason’s eyes lit up and a big smile spread across his face as the paper fell away from the iPad that will help him write and communicate at home and at school this fall.
Since 1992, the Northwest Indiana Chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has sponsored Make A Dream Come True for a local youngster with a terminal or serious illness, said George Ross, of Prudential in Crown Point, who coordinates the program.
The group works with Dr. Clark Kramer, of Merrillville, a pediatric oncologist, who is Mason’s doctor. Due to the HIPPA laws, Kramer has to ask families of his patients if they would like to participate in the chapter’s Make A Dream program.
To fund the Make A Dream project, the organization sells raffle tickets for $10 each. The raffle includes a host of prizes donated by area organizations and businesses.
One of a set of triplets born 14 weeks prematurely, the 11-year old DeMotte resident was selected to have his dream come true this year. Originally, Mason wanted to see the stage production of “Shrek."
The play had already left Chicago, so the group worked to make Mason’s dream come true.
Instead, the Biernat family will stay as guests at the Naperville Marriott Hotel in August and see the play “Peter Pan” performed at North Central College. The play and the iPad came as major surprises to Mason, who attended the luncheon in his honor with his mother, Tearsa Biernat, and his fellow triplets Conner and Emmagrace. Dad Matthew Biernat was at work.
The three siblings weighed a little more than one pound when they were born at the University of Chicago Medical Center on Dec. 16, 2001. At eight months of age, Mason was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He uses a wheelchair for mobility.
During a major snowstorm in January, the boy had his first grand mal seizure and was rushed to U of C, where doctors found he also has epilepsy.
An MRI revealed a structural problem in Mason’s brain called periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL. It is the major cause of both cerebral palsy and epilepsy in premature infants.
Medication is helping control the epilepsy, Tearsa Biernat said.
“We thank God because there are so many other things that could have happened,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Mason can talk, learn, eat and communicate. He can type better and faster than he can write.”
The iPad will go with the youngster to Kankakee Valley Middle School, where he and his siblings will be in sixth grade this fall.
Asked what he looked forward to at a new school, Mason smiled broadly and said, “Having fun!”