BLOOMINGTON — Kierra Tasker had her birthday wish granted, receiving a surprise parade organized by her mother and a golf cart from Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic.
The 14-year-old Bloomington resident has a nervous system disorder called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which means it can be challenging for her to do some of her favorite things like camping.
The idea to get Kierra a golf cart spawned from the family’s yearly trip to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, where they’ll rent one that helps her mobility.
On April 17, Make-A-Wish made it happen.
“Every 18 months, we (the Lennox-Gastaut Foundation) have a conference and they give us resources and things on how to find things for our kids,” said Sondra Tasker, Kierra’s mother. “I talked to a couple other moms who had said they went to Make-A-Wish. I contacted them in maybe September and went through all the paperwork process.”
Leading up to the day the golf cart was slated for delivery, Tasker reached out to friends with the Bloomington Fire Department to arrange a small parade through town for Kierra. Her friend then reached out to other departments and the next thing she knew, about 14 different departments were interested in taking part.
“My husband and I are have both been involved here and there with the fire department. They’re absolutely amazing,” Tasker said. “All the local fire departments just wanted to get involved and it blew up. I think there were 14 different departments, that includes like Allegany sheriff’s office, Oakland sheriff’s office, it wasn’t just fire departments, but EMS also.”
Due to her disorder, Kierra’s body doesn’t regulate body temperature well and, before receiving the golf cart, she didn’t get outside when weather was too hot or cold, Tasker said. But since receiving the cart, she is able to get outside almost every day.
“Every day she gets one ride, at least. It’s getting her out and the neighbors see her and they wave at her,” Tasker said. “She loves it. She loves to see people, so any time she sees somebody she stops and talks to them.”
The family had a couple of camping trip vacations planned for the summer where Kierra would get a chance to use the golf cart, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans are in flux. Tasker said their favorite parts of camping are spending time together as a family and getting away from phones and technology.
“It has been one of the most amazing experiences we’ve ever gone through. From the initial phone call that we were accepted to Make-A-Wish and how excited we were, and to go through the process and think ‘what would Kierra want.’
“The wish volunteers that came out, I’ve told them since the very first day I feel like they’re family now,” said Tasker. To see how much support Kierra has, I used to people she was a local celebrity in Garrett County. Now, I’m like, ‘I think she’s a local celebrity in the tri-state region’ because everybody knows who she is. Kierra has a way of touching people in a way that I can’t even explain because she’s amazing.”
Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.