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Wish granted for Garfield boy

Austin and Elly Baune of Garfield posed with Mickey and Minnie Mouse during a recent visit to Disney World. The trip was made possible through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (Contributed)

Austin Baune wanted to go to Florida, he wanted to see Mickey Mouse, and he wanted to kiss a dolphin ¬- typical wishes for a little boy. But for this youngster, those wishes came true, with the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Give Kids the World.

The Echo Press first told its readers about Austin, the son of Tony and Molly Baune of Garfield, in the October 12, 2011 Life section. At 4 years old, in June 2011 he had been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Austin completed five rounds of chemotherapy from October 2011 through January 2012. Each of these treatments involved a trip to Children's Clinic in Minneapolis every seven to 10 days.

In February, he started the maintenance round of treatment, in which he takes oral chemotherapy at home every day and will have chemotherapy by IV and spinal taps every 12 weeks. This will continue until the completion of treatment on August 5, 2014.

There was a bright spot in all the darkness in September 2011, when a social worker at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis told the Baune family that their son would qualify for a wish to be granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Baune family completed the paperwork and were visited by representatives to discuss Austin's wish.

"[I want to go to] Florida, to go swimming, see Buzz Light Year, Woody, Jessie, Bulls Eye, Aladdin, Genie, Mickey Mouse and to kiss a dolphin," was the boy's response.

"It was cute to hear him rattle it all off to the ladies," said Molly. "So they put in for us to go to Disney World. We were excited for the opportunity to have something fun to look forward to in the midst of all the crazy chemo treatments."

The family, including Austin's sister, Elly, a 1st grader at Garfield Elementary School, took off for Disney World February 28 and returned March 5.

The family visited Disney World (Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Magic Kingdom), Universal Studios, Sea World, and Aquatica, Sea World's water park.

While there, the Baunes stayed at Give Kids the World (GKTW), a 70-acre, 200-villa facility in central Florida. It is for children between the ages of 3 and 18 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. If the child expresses the wish to visit Central Florida, GKTW arranges a week-long vacation, at no cost to the family.

"Wow! What an amazing week we had as a family," Molly said. "Make-A-Wish and GKTW gave us a wonderful week, something we will never forget. They are terrific at making sure you have everything at your fingertips to have a fantastic time. The opportunity to create memories for Austin and Elly during such a trying time in our lives was something we never could have imagined."


Austin's cancer is currently in remission. He currently visits Children's Clinic once a month for a checkup and blood counts. His maintenance phase of chemotherapy will end August 5, 2014.

Austin wears braces for neuropathy in his feet. He goes to occupational therapy once a week and physical therapy every other week.

Since his diagnosis, he has had only one hospital stay, but he has had several emergency room visits due to elevated temperatures.

He will continue regular checkups for several years to make sure there are no relapses.