Fishing at the lake is a pastime many area residents likely take for granted. But, for one little boy, fishing at the cabin is both a wish come true and a family tradition.
Dylan Files, 5, the son of Dana and Sarah Files, is from Ojai, Calif., and he spent last week fishing at his relatives’ cabin on Whitefish Lake, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
When Dylan was 16 months old, he was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, which is a type of kidney cancer that develops in utero.
“It’s a little plant that grows in your stomach,” Dylan explained.
He had his left kidney removed, which was followed by about six months of chemotherapy. Dylan is healthy now and is looking forward to starting kindergarten in the fall. Besides fishing, he likes playing soccer, baseball and tennis.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted the Files family last summer about granting Dylan a wish, and two representatives came and interviewed Dylan.
“They asked tons of questions, and everything kept coming back to he wanted to go to the cabin in Minnesota,” said his mother.
“They kept asking more and more to see if there was anything else, and this is what he knows, this is what he enjoys, so to him this is really special,” she said.
The Files family, which includes 1-year-old Sydney, came to the area July 22-27 to fulfill Dylan’s wish.
Coming to the cabin on Whitefish Lake has been a longtime family tradition.
“When Mommy was little, her cousins, I think, started coming up here, and then she started coming up here and then she met Daddy, and then they got married and then they had kids and then Sydney and me went up here,” Dylan said.
The cabin is owned by Dave and Gloria Olson, Dylan’s great-uncle and -aunt. This trip was Dylan’s sixth trip to the cabin.
“To him, this is what he knows of fun, and what he wants to do,” Sarah said.
Catch and release fishing in one of the fun activities Dylan likes to do at the family cabin. On this trip, he caught many sunfish as well as a smallmouth bass.
“That bass I caught was really wild,” Dylan said.
Besides fishing, Dylan and his family were able to do several special things on their trip to Minnesota.
“This trip with the Make-A-Wish stuff has definitely been a unique trip. We got to do things we wouldn’t normally do,” said Sarah.
Dylan rode to the airport in a limousine. After his flight, the captain invited Dylan into the cockpit and Dylan got to wear the captain’s hat.
The family also went to Paul Bunyan Land, which the Brainerd amusement park donated to the family. There Dylan went on his first roller coaster, which he liked, but it took second place to riding on the Ferris wheel.
The Files family also went up in a seaplane in Hackensack. John Justad, owner of Lake Country Air Services, donated the plane ride.
“We went over Boy Lake and Baby Lake,” Dylan said. “You got to wear headphones and talk to everybody in the plane.”