Steve Rogers

About Steve Rogers

Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

Child’s ‘Wish’ Is Inspiration to Family

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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) — A child’s incurable illness helps a Columbus family overcome the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Saturday, the child and his family celebrated some special moments in a story of hope and inspiration.

When he was 18 months old, Kendale Smith was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. Doctors gave him just six months to live. He’s now 8 and this weekend, he was “Star for a Day,” thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation.

Kendale came armed with a long list of Hot Wheels, computer games and other gadgets for his all day shopping spree at Game Stop, Fred’s, Leigh Mall, Wal-Mart and other Columbus businesses.

“I want to do it all,” Kendale said as he prepared for his special day surrounded by his family, relatives and friends.

“To be able to have all the things he wished to have and to live out just a dream,” said his mother, Teewanda Smith.

Her son’s diagnosis came just weeks after the family lost everything to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Faced with the hardships, TeeWanda Smith could have let depression win out.

“He was just my motivation. He was the thing that kept me going.  No matter how bad I felt or how sad or depressed, the only thing I could think about was Kendale,” she said of her son’s illness.

With four sisters and a brother, the New Hope second-grader had plenty of friends and family along for the special day. For them, it was just one more day of inspiration..

“And I tell you he has been an inspiration to me because when they told me he wouldn’t live to get to two, you know that was a depressing moment for me, but I thank God he has made it to 8 years old,” explained his great-grandmother Bessie Tate.

Kendale’s story touched others. Bill Pace stopped to watch and reflect as Kendale made his way through Game Stop. His two children have received special Make-A-Wish days. He knows what those treasured moments mean to many families who could never do it without the financial help of others.

“You just can’t believe what this does for families and for children.  It’s a big deal. It made a big difference in their lives,” said Pace, who started a local fishing tournament to raise money for the cause.

Kendale’s special day included a police escort, his first limo ride and a special dinner at Ryan’s.

To find out more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation or how to help, go to www.wish.org.