When he was a farm boy in South Dakota, 7-year-old Koen knows all about calves, kittens and dogs, in addition to the hard work that goes into farming.
Koen also knows all about nebulizers, cocktail vest breathing treatments, epi pens, Solu-Cortef emergency injections with monthly shots to help your lung disease. He faces health challenges, but the farm is his happy place.
“Koen is still a normal 7-year-old. He talks about brushing his teeth and keeping things clean, and he will annoy his little brother every day, ”said his mother, Shanda. “He just has that giant, kind heart that he shares with others.”
Your doctor, Wilfredo G. Veloira Jr., MDA specialist in pediatric pulmonology, sleep medicine from Avera Medical Group, sent the name Koen to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the well-known group that honors young people suffering from serious health conditions.
Koen could have looked for a trip to a Florida amusement park or requested a meeting with a sports star or celebrity.
But he didn’t.
Instead, he returned the desire. He wanted to help other children, because he knows that visits to the hospital and the clinic can be scary. He also knows how agriculture is part of the lives of almost every child in the Midwest, one way or another. So his wish was selfless: to help share his love for the farm with other children and give them colorful distractions in a scary place, Koen asked that the waiting area for the group’s pediatric specialists be redone doctor Avera in Sioux Falls with a new color of agricultural theme. designs, interactive screens and even a tractor that children could sit and drive.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation thought it would be great, but soon the news reached other groups, including the Avera Foundation and businesses in the area. Everyone was excited and everyone wanted to contribute to Koen’s great idea. Soon, the design of the pediatric waiting area grew, became more attractive and showy, and included many agricultural safety lessons for any child.
On World Wishes Day 2021, the new area opened, full of farm themes, engaging videos and activities, and farm safety lessons, and Koen loved it.
We asked Koen some questions, and here are his answers in his own words.
You have faced many of your challenges with courage. Do you have any advice for other children who may be suffering from health problems or fear?
Just be calm. It will hurt more if you’re like screaming all the time, but if you stay still it won’t hurt as much. Talk about what scares you with your mom and dad if they are with you.
When did you come up with this wish?
I was coming home from my monthly shot. I was tired, had a headache, my arm hurt and I thought about my desire. It just came to my mind.
What are your favorite things to do on the farm?
Go for a walk on the dirt roads and play with my dog, Toby. I also like to help my father. I also like to play with my cats (Snickers, Idaho and Junior), they are a lot of fun. Junior was cut by the fan in the van when my dad started it. It wasn’t good, but it’s okay now.
I like to help my dad when he’s pulling sticks out of the ground or moving cattle. Building fences and driving tractors are also fun things.
Why do you like it?
I like driving tractors, I don’t know. The crops go in the elevator and they have these big containers for the crops, and you sell them for money. They make a long train journey and then go on a big boat and then make bread.
The cows go to a boy who cuts them and takes out their meat. Then they go to the store. Steak and burger are my favorites – there are many meats that come from cows.
Why do you think it was important for children to know more about agriculture?
Because on the farm there are a lot of situations where you can get hurt. And I wanted the kids to know all the safety rules in case they went to a farm and didn’t know the rules. You could get hurt if you are not careful.