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Hot tub a wish come true
By LISA BRITTON
Of the Baker City Herald
Sam Vaughan planned to take a spring break trip to Mexico with his friends in March of 2001.
Instead, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and immediately began treatments.
Now the cancer is in remission and he's an active junior at Baker High School.
He also has a brand new hot tub and gazebo as a result of a wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
His mom, Teresa, said that Dr. Martin Johnston at St. Luke's Oncology Unit in Boise diagnosed the cancer. After evaluating Sam's condition, Johnston told him that he was eligible for the Make-A-Wish program.
Johnston then started making contact with the organization.
In July 2001, the Make-A-Wish program director, Carla Wagner, contacted Sam and "told him to start thinking about what he wanted," Teresa said.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation was created in 1980, and Oregon's branch began in 1983. The organization attempts to fulfill the wishes of children, ages 2 1/2 to 18 years, who have life-threatening illnesses.
In 2001, Make-A-Wish granted 107 wishes in Oregon.
As part of the process, the foundation assigns two volunteers to each Make-A-Wish child to help with the wish fulfillment. Peter and Brenda Johnson from Boise were paired with Sam and met with him to discuss his request.
"The director told Sam to be creative," Teresa said.
Teresa was sure he would choose an adventurous hunting trip he loves to hunt or some other type of vacation trip.
However, he chose a hot tub and received a Marquis spa and gazebo.
"It's nice to come and get in when it's cold," Sam said, "and it's cold a lot here."
"It's a great social thing and he's a pretty social kid," Teresa added.
The hot tub was installed Sept. 25. Four men from Pacific Builders in Boise owner Kelly Eau Claire, Virgil Coakley, Evan Smith and Mark Olsen traveled to Baker City on their day off to install the hot tub. They didn't leave until 10:30 p.m., Teresa said.
Some local people also donated their time to make Sam's wish come true. Clay McEnroe and Mark DeLong helped prepare the space for the hot tub, and Hoss Reynolds from Arros Electric handled the electrical hookups.
Sam said he's been getting a lot of use out of the enclosed hot tub, and thinks that Make-A-Wish is a valuable program.
"I think it's a good deal. A lot of kids benefit from it," he said.