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Accomplish MN: Caleb Swims With Dolphins

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Your generosity is already helping kids’ dreams come true.

Earlier this year, you helped us raise 18 million airline miles for Make-A-Wish Minnesota.

You may have been inspired to donate by Caleb Pence, a young boy with brittle bone disease.

We followed him on a treasure hunt in March that led him to WCCO, where his wish to swim with dolphins was revealed.

Caleb flew to Florida recently to do just that. Now he is back home.

Matt Brickman paid him a visit to hear all about his trip, and while he was there, he learned that it came at just the right time.

After a smooth ride to Orlando, Fla., the family headed right to Discovery Cove for their adventure. Caleb got to meet turtles, sting rays and of course, dolphins. Caleb’s wish came true when he swam with the dolphins, but it didn’t stop there.

“I remember that we could make funny noises with it,” Caleb said. “You could even wave at it and do dolphin karate.”

The trip also included a day at Disney World, where Caleb met Mickey Mouse, and another stop at Sea World to see Shamu.

“I had a ton of fun,” Caleb said.

But just days after returning home to Brainerd, the Pence’s were reminded of just how fragile Caleb’s bones can be. Caleb and his father were looking at a dead tree in their yard and they wanted to push it down so it didn’t fall on somebody.

“Dad said run and if I just stayed there I would’ve been safe. Except I ran and then tripped, and the tree got me,” Caleb said.

Caleb suffered several injuries, including a broken leg and arm, head and spine injuries. He was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, where doctors discovered bleeding on his brain.

“You hate to see your kid in pain but you can tend to live with it more if it’s not something you’ve caused,” said Chris Pence, his father. “But you feel like if it’s something you did, it’s probably the worse feeling that I’ve ever had.”

He spent four days in intensive care and a week in the hospital.

“When you’re going through those types of situations it is so helpful to have something so positive to focus your attention on,” said Chris Pence.

For the Pence’s, that’s exactly what the Make-a-Wish trip was. In the most trying of times, it was a silver lining to look back on.

“It was a trip that we had no cares, we had no worries. We just enjoyed ourselves and really as a family just had fun,” said Chris.

Since the accident with the tree, Caleb is expected to make a full recovery.

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