TRAVERSE CITY — Justin Bailey has dreamed of seeing the majestic glaciers of Alaska since watching his first nature show about “America’s last frontier.”
Now the Interlochen teen is finally getting his wish thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan. The organization grants wishes to Michigan children with life-threatening medical conditions to “enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
Bailey, who has common variable immune deficiency and is legally blind, was diagnosed in the 10th grade with Evans syndrome. The blood disorder is an autoimmune disease which causes his antibodies to attack his red blood cells and platelets, leaving him weak, tired and with headaches.
“He’ll go for periods of time feeling better, then relapse,” said Bailey’s mother, Jan Bailey. “The only thing you can do is blood transfusions and he’s had several forms of chemotherapy to try and kill whatever is attacking his red blood cells.” His multiple medications include steroids, she said.
Justin departed with his family Monday on a 10-day “wish trip” to Alaska. The expenses-paid vacation includes a day cruise to view glaciers and wildlife, a gold mine tour and panning for gold, and a visit to Seavey’s Ididaride Dog Sled Tours operated by 2014 Iditarod race winner Dallas Seavey and his family.
It also includes lodging and a fishing excursion in Resurrection Bay in Seward, on the state’s scenic Kenai Peninsula.
“I’m probably most excited about the fishing on the ocean,” said Bailey, 18, who began fishing so long ago he can’t remember first casting a line. “It’s the first time in saltwater. They said if we catch a halibut or salmon they’ll pay to ship it back home.”
The trip was supposed to take place last summer, Jan Bailey said. But the family had to cancel when Justin relapsed.