Local wish-granting organizations impacted by Hurricane Ian

'We're disappointed but I mean, we can wait'
Posted at 10:16 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 05:22:30-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Local wish-granting organizations like the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Rainbow Connection are being impacted by Hurricane Ian, postponing wish trips and scrambling to get other families home.

For weeks, 11-year-old Kohen Karns has been counting down to Wednesday. He and his family were set to fly out of Detroit for Orlando, staying at Give Kids the World Village, courtesy of Make-a-Wish.

However, Kohen is still at home with his family in Grand Rapids, having their trip postponed due to Hurricane Ian.

“This was a long time coming. Kohen’s wish was also postponed due to the pandemic,” Kohen's mom Lisa Karns said.

Kohen has waited over two years for his wish. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2018 and had his wish postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Since then, his cancer returned leading to a second bone marrow transplant. He’s now ready to travel, but Hurricane Ian had other plans.

“It's been an ultimate long awaited and very highly anticipated trip that has to wait even longer,” Lisa Karns said.

Disney announced their park would be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the storm as it heads inland from the Gulf Coast. The storm made landfall as a Category 4.

“This is one of the most difficult things right? There's things in the world we can't control. We can't control when a child gets ill, we can’t control the weather,” said Ingrid Todt, executive director of the Rainbow Connection.

Michigan wish-granting organization the Rainbow Connection has also been impacted by the storm. Of their nearly 160 yearly wishes, 65% are to Orlando for parks like Disney and Universal. They’ve had to postpone trips for two families and are scrambling now to get another family home.

“If there’s a will, there's a way," Todt said. "If we’re granting wishes, we’re going to make sure we do the best we can to get them home safe and sound.”

Meanwhile, the Karns family will wait again, hopefully this time for just a few months. They're thankful to be safe at home, with Kohen’s cancer now in remission.

“We're disappointed but I mean, we can wait,” Lisa Karns said. "I think about all the families and Florida residents that have to go through all this.”