Make-A-Wish surprises 16-year-old with horse barn

Make-A-Wish surprises 16-year-old with horse barn - clipped version

SEMINARY, MS (WDAM) - A 16-year-old boy from Covington County that spends his days fighting cancer had the surprise of his life on Friday.

Family members say London Reese was diagnosed with cancer when he was 13.

“His fight has been a struggle,” said his aunt, Betty Cooley. “He was sick all the time and to me a little depressed, but he made it and he never gave up hope.”

Shortly after his diagnosis, a family member reached out to Make-A-Wish Mississippi.

“When the family reached out and said we would like for him to have a wish, we made sure he qualified first,” said wish coordinator Stacey Craig. “We met with him and we asked him what does he want to do.”

To their surprise, Craig said London only cared about one thing.

“His passion is horses and he told us all he cares about are his horses,” Craig said.

Family members said London has been in love with horses since he was a baby.

“He sleeps, breathes, eats and lives for horses,” Cooley said. “I have never seen a young man that can ride a horse as well as he can.”

After much brainstorming, the organization agreed on a horse barn for London’s horses. Family said the horses were kept on his father’s farm prior to the reveal.

“The one thing he wanted was a barn so that he could keep his horses safe from the weather and the elements," Craig said.

Gene Buckles, a license contractor from Brookhaven, agreed to take on the project.

“I’m 71-years-old and in the next couple of years my goal is to do some projects for people that need help,” Buckles said. “I said this would be a good chance to get started.”

Buckles said he never met London prior to the reveal Friday, but he had been in contact with the family during the entire process.

“I’ve heard a lot about him, amazing stories,” said Buckles. “You have to consider someone brave to go through what he’s going through.”

Buckles traveled over 100 miles daily, hauling all of his equipment and building materials from Brookhaven to Seminary for months in order to make London’s dreams come true.

“It was a pleasure to do it,” Buckles said. “I enjoyed it. I like to see things like this happen and I like to see it happen to people that could use it.”

The 1,600-square-foot, two-story barn consists of four 12-by-14 stalls.

“We’ve never done anything as big as this project has been to date," Craig said. “We don’t really do a lot of construction wishes. We do a lot of Disney World, a lot of ‘I want to meet... and I want to go and do this and that.' So, this was a project for us, but we got it done and it’s been a fun project to work on."

Reese was too lost for words when he walked down the driveway to see his new farm with his name on the side.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been wanting a barn,” Reese said.

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