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7-year-old battling leukemia surprised with backyard ice skating rink

Keegan began skating at 3 years old, a few months before his leukemia diagnosis. His mother knew just the thing for Make a Wish Michigan to grant.

WYOMING, Mich. — A Wyoming boy had his wish granted Friday afternoon after being surprised with a celebration — and a backyard ice skating rink.

7-year-old Keegan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in November 2018. He is expected to complete his treatment with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in April of this year.

Keegan's mother, Raeann Elliott, said his symptoms began like a normal illness.

"It was a fever and an ear infection. But antibiotics weren't helping," she said. 

Keegan was taken to the pediatrician after three days of not feeling well, and was then taken to the Emergency Room to be evaluated.

"Essentially the ER doc that walked in knew something was wrong," Elliott said. "And we knew within three hours, four hours that it was leukemia."

Despite all the changes coming at Keegan, his love of skating has always been a constant. Elliott said he began skating at 3 years old, a few months before his diagnosis. 

While his treatment meant he couldn't skate regularly, Elliott says it's still his favorite activity.

"It's every day he gets off the bus and he wants to go skate," she said. "He wants to work on a stick handling, you know, and some days I have to tell him no because we have to go to hockey or we have another activity that we're going to, but he will be out here until it's dark and we have to pull him in."

So when it came time to pick a wish for Make a Wish Michigan to fulfill, Elliott knew exactly what Keegan wanted: An ice skating rink in his own backyard.

When Keegan got off the school bus Friday afternoon, he was surprised by the Grand Rapids Griffins mascot, Griff. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to open the backyard skating rink, and Keegan enjoyed an afternoon of skating.

For Elliott, getting to surprise Keegan with his wish was worth it to see his reaction.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you. The smile on this guy's face that we get to see...It doesn't make the journey any easier, but it's a reward for what he's been through," she said. "So just thank you."

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