The United States Army Reserve recently helped build a breakwater bridge for the 2012 Ensign National Championship Regatta sailboat race. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a local boy had the chance to play a role he'll never forget.
Like any other ten year old, Ladd Anderson dreams of one day becoming a soldier, like his big brother. Last October the Calumet, Michigan boy was diagnosed with a form of Leukemia, and the Make-A -Wish foundation stepped in.
"My wish was to go to my brother's graduation, but I didn't get to because my numbers were too low," said Ladd.
"We went without him, and he was kind of bummed, but his second choice was to get an iPod touch," said Becky Anderson, Ladd's mother.
But Make-A-Wish thought that wasn't enough, so instead of going to the Army, they brought the Army to him. For one day, Ladd enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. His mission was a big one.
"The City of Marquette wanted us to help them build a bridge for this Regatta race," said Sgt. Travis Bradbury. We took that and we said, 'You know what, the bridge comes second; at that point we'll get this kid out here to do whatever he wants to do.'"
Ladd got a uniform, called the shots, and helped build the bridge. Watching him participate, you'd never know he's a sick boy. His mother says it wasn't always that way.
"At first it was hard, very self-conscious," Anderson said. "Kids know he has something, and he felt like they're going to think he's odd, weird, contagious."
His mom says Ladd turns the fear into strength as he pulls his weight around the Army boat.
"Tough guy," Anderson adds. "He never complains, barely even winces when he gets his injections in his legs. He's amazing!"
The soldiers say he'll be a part of the Army Reserve forever.
"That kid is a role model to everybody. I'm jealous of him," Sgt. Bradbury said. "Going through what he's going through, still mustering up strength to come out here and want to serve, that's incredible. Ten years old!"
The bridge now serves as a breakwater for this week's saiboat race in Marquette. For Ladd, it built a path to making his wish come true.