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Make-A-Wish Vermont Appreciation Day Brings Out Over 150 Wish Kids and Families to Pump House

April 25, 2016 (Jay, VT)- Over 150 Make-A-Wish Foundation kids and family members enjoyed a day of free splashing at Jay Peak’s Pump House Indoor Waterpark on Sunday, April 24. The day of appreciation came about after a Jay Peak employee had a son diagnosed with cancer, and the Foundation’s overwhelming support of the toddler during his treatment.

In February of 2015 Andy Stenger’s son, Bennett, was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a cancer that forms in the body’s muscle tissue. The five-year old, grandson of Jay Peak’s president Bill Stenger, was hospitalized while on a family vacation in Alabama. He was diagnosed with RMS within a week of returning to Vermont, and quickly began treatment.

“Within days of Bennett’s diagnosis, we were made aware of the (Make-A-Wish) program,” said Andy Stenger, a construction project manager at Jay Peak. “It was really incredible. It’s impossible to convey just what their support meant to Bennett and our family. For them, it’s all about doing good things and keeping kids happy.” 

During the course of his treatment, the youngest Stenger spent a day with the Vermont National Guard getting up close with tanks and Blackhawk helicopters. Another day with some troopers from the Vermont State Police where he got to “arrest” some bad guys and learn about police tactics. For his Big Wish, the Make-A-Wish Foundation flew Bennett and his family to Disney World. 

“I just wanted to give something back,” said the 43-year Stenger referring to Jay Peak’s offer of a day of free food and splashing for families currently working with Make-A-Wish Vermont. “They did so much for my son; it really was overwhelming. I asked the senior team at Jay what we could do, and a day at the park was a no-brainer.”

Said Jamie Hathaway, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Vermont, “We are so grateful to all the folks at Jay Peak for making our day at the waterpark possible. For a lot of our families, just being able to get out and do fun things is a rare opportunity. To see so many Wish Kids just be kids for the day was a beautiful thing. I am grateful the Jay Peak team put so much work into making such a special day possible.”