On Wednesday morning, 10-year old Ethan Zakes got a big surprise. He thought his mom was bringing him to a garden show, but when they arrived at their destination, he found himself at the Bellevue Skatepark where a party was being thrown in his honor.
The Woodinville boy, a fourth-grader at Bellevue Christian School, loves skateboarding and graffiti art. He has always been a happy, active child, but just a few months ago, he was diagnosed with a rare adrenal disorder that impairs cognitive and motor skills.
In the coming days, Ethan will begin chemotherapy and bone-marrow treatments to help fight the progressive disease, but on Wednesday, he was just a boy enjoying a party with family, friends and skaters.
"It's so cool. It's great!" said Ethan.
The day was made possible by Make-A-Wish Foundation, which learned of Ethan's love of skateboarding and contacted Bellevue Skate Park Manager Joe Moorman to host the party. Located in the Highland Community Center, the indoor facility is a popular Eastside location for skateboarders.
Ethan's wish was to "just hang out with skateboarders and a graffiti artist to feel cool for a day," said Jessie Elenbaas, Wish Manager with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Washington and Alaska.
Ethan's parents expressed appreciation for the tremendous community support for their son. His father, Brad Zakes, said, "We are so grateful to the Make-A-Wish people. They are just phenomenal, this was so easy for us. We simply explained Ethan's likes and interests, and they made all of this happen. It's really amazing."
The party guests included Ethan's classmates and his teacher, along with skateboarders of all ages, skate staff and graffiti mural artists.
There were plenty of hugs, smiles and "high fives" throughout the celebration. Along with pizza and cake, there were skating demonstrations and music by Jimi Hendrix, one of Ethan's favorite musicians. Several Bellevue police officers also attended and Ethan got to check out one of the motorcycles.
Mural artists provided a demonstration and helped Ethan create a mural of his own to commemorate the day.
"We hope this helps him in his recovery by just letting him know we're all behind him and we feel for him," Moorman said. "The skatepark, the skateboarders, the sponsors, the City of Bellevue, we're all behind him."
If you have photos or video footage you want to submit to the blog, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org