WOODLAND, Wash. (KOIN) — Honorary Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Bishop wore his flight suit Wednesday after completing pool training and basic air crewman training with the US Coast Guard.
The 8-year-old, born with a rare condition called schizencephaly, is non-verbal and non-mobile — but extremely smart.
Andrew’s mom, Stephanie Bishop, said she tries to show him the joy in life as he continues to face medical challenges.
“He has to fight all the time, but when the fights are really big we want him to have a reason to fight,” she told KOIN 6 News. “It’s like, ‘Look, you get to do these cool things. Life is worth living. Let’s fight for it.”
So, Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington teamed up with the Coast Guard to make his dream come true.
Since he was 4, Andrew has been into rescue swimmers when he saw the movie, “The Guardian.” For his wish, he could have gone to DisneyWorld or to Hawaii — but he kept pointing to pictures of the rescue swimmer.
On July 7 and 8, the family went to Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak in Alaska. Andrew took part in rescue swimmer pool training and a rescue mission to hoist a hiker (with simulated injuries) into an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.
“He was very serious learning all the parts of the helicopter but any time you would catch his eye he’d have the biggest smile you’ve ever seen,” she said.
At the end of his mission, Andrew was presented an Air Medal for his work during the training rescue.
“He did not want to leave,” Stephanie said. “We didn’t want to leave, but he defintiely did not want to leave.”
“I could not be more proud of the coordination effort put forth by the members who helped make this a memorable event for Andrew and his family,” Capt. Mark Morin, the commanding officer of Air Station Kodiak, said in a statement. “Words cannot express the look on Andrew’s face during his time spent with us and we are proud to have such a wonderful addition to the Air Station family.”
Stephanie said the trip was pure joy for her son — and she is forever grateful.
“Well, I’m about to burst. I’m so grateful for Make-A-Wish and for the Coast Guard and especially the guys at Air Station Kodiak for everything they did for us and everything they did, more importantly, for Andrew,” Stephanie said. “Gratitude is too small of a word.”