LANGLEY — For a quiet young man who prefers to shy away from the spotlight, Colton Wilson has become something of a media star.
Even as volunteers finished restoration work of the South Whidbey High School baseball field that Wilson’s wish set in motion, he was being interviewed by the press, both print and television.
“It’s pretty cool that all these people would come out in the rain and help make my wish come true,” he told reporters. “It’s all coming together. It will be great to play on a nice field.”
Over the years, sophomore catcher Wilson has been an active baseball player for the Falcons as well as for the South Whidbey Little League.
On Aug. 8, 2006 he was diagnosed with a cancer common among children and teens called Ewing’s Sarcoma, first identified by a swelling in his lower leg just above his ankle. He’s since endured several sequential rounds of painful chemotherapy at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, treatment that lasted into spring.
The family contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation with Wilson’s desire to remodel Falcon Field with much-needed bleachers, bullpens and batting cages.
When family friend Lisa Hanna heard the news about the teen’s wish, she was amazed. “He wanted to restore the high school baseball field,” she said.
“The lady from Make-A-Wish told Colton’s parents that she had never had a kid ask for something for someone else like that — no trip to Disneyland, no cruise, no signature from a sports star,” Hanna added.
Over the intervening months while Wilson dealt with doctors, friends held fundraisers and generous donors stepped up to the plate with offers of help.
The first asphalt was laid May 17 and the final make-over was rushed to get ready for the dedication, scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, June 15.
The Make-A-Wish folks designated Saturday as Build Day, good weather or foul.
Work crews weeded and raked out the bullpens, installed astroturf, hauled junk away, painted the dugouts, assembled the new bleachers and pitching machines, capped the outfield fence and hung a new hitting station net.
Falcon coach Dave Guetlin, not content to oversee the work, grabbed a weed whacker and cleared overgrown brush before a dozen fellows laid the turf down.
Senior baseball stars Danny Parra and Lakota Holder won’t ever get to play on the new field.
“That’s OK, it’s going to be a great place for players and the fans when this is done,” Parra said. “We’re happy to be part of it.”
Make-A-Wish organizer Brian Lawrence said the community response has been outstanding.
“We provided money and organization, but the people here on Whidbey Island have really gone the extra mile,” he said.
In the home dugout, Wilson’s mother Lana was busy preparing brunch for all the workers. Looking out into the field where her son was being interviewed, she expressed gratitude for everyone who helped.
“Friday night a dream really comes true and it’ll be shared by everyone,” she said.
As for Wilson, he’s feeling very good, reporting that he finished his final treatment last month.
“I’m close to 100 percent. I can’t play Little League this summer but I’m definitely shooting for a spot for next season’s opening game on this field,” he said.