BAY COUNTY, Fla (WMBB) — The Make A Wish Foundation is always busy helping the dreams of young lives come true.
Today’s pirate-themed wish took place at Camp Helen State Park, where X marked the spot for one little boy.
Nikhil Shah, a 6-year-old from Texas, was diagnosed with cancer just before the pandemic last year. After bravely navigating his way through the diagnosis and successful treatment, Nikhil is now in remission and will be considered cancer-free after 5 years.
His one wish during this journey has been to find buried treasure on the beach, and The Make A Wish Foundation was in Panama City Beach this morning to make that come true.
One of the pirates who greeted him on the beach, Del McRea, Captain of the Pirates of the White Sands of Panama City, said they were more than excited to get the call.
“What better way to be a part of it and volunteer, than to get some of our crew to come out here on our white beautiful beaches and just have a good time with him,” said McRea. “The boy and his family were lead through a treasure map and used metal detectors to find small treasure chests filled with jewels, gems, and doubloons in the sand. It was a special morning for the young boy and his whole family.”
He hunted side by side with his sister, Nina, who he considers his hero. Nina was the person to first spot something was wrong with Nikhil.
“I didn’t know and I picked him up to see if he wanted to see this thing on the counter when I picked him up and his face went white, and I was scared because I thought something bad was gonna happen… and then we found out,” Shah said.
After that, the family was quick to take Nikhil to the hospital and find out he had cancer on one of his kidneys.
While it was a tough journey, the family praised Nikhil for how brave he was throughout his treatments.
“It means so much because weren’t able to recognize him after his treatments, normally we would have had a big party. We would’ve invited the whole floor of the hospital, oncology, pediatric wing, and all of his friends and family to celebrate him, but we weren’t able to do that because of COVID,” said Nikhil’s mother, Leah Shah.
The Make A Wish Foundation made it possible for Nikhil to have his day in the sun.
“Just to see him feel recognized and celebrated today is extremely special,” said Shah.
After the hunt was over, Nikhil dug through his riches and relaxed on the beach with his family.