By PAUL RIAT
Belleville – Dustin Miskell wanted a place where he could sit with his family and enjoy a movie.
Dustin, 16, was born with epilepsy.
He can’t walk or talk but communicates by nodding “yes” or “no” and squeezing his mother’s hand.
This is how he made his wish known.
The men and women of Plumbers & Fitters Local 101 in Belleville partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help make it come true.
The effort got its start a couple years ago when members of Local 101 were working at the Prairie State Energy Campus near Marissa, Ill.
At that time, the Bechtel Corporation was trying to keep injuries down on the massive project. As an incentive, company officials told workers that if they remained accident free for 30 days Bechtel would sponsor a Make-A-Wish child on their behalf.
Joe Benyo, a volunteer wish grantor for Make-A-Wish, and his wife Sandy, met with about 1,000 workers on the project and brought a Wish family with them for the workers to meet.
“They got to see the actual wish that was granted,” Joe Benyo said.
That was all it took.
The incentive proved so popular that Bechtel did it again, and some of the members of Local 101 came home with the idea of sponsoring a wish all on their own.
Local 101 members Dave Voss, Kevin Lilley and Matt Lampe organized the effort.
“Our guys saw what Bechtel was doing and they wanted to get in on that,” President and Local 101 Business Agent Scott Deitz said. “They went to the Make-A-Wish people, who said an average wish costs about $8,500. Our guys came up with $3,000 or $4,000 and the hall made up the difference.”
Dustin’s wish was to have a place in his home where he could watch movies with his whole family.
Local 101 raised the funds to purchase a large sectional and remodel a part of the family’s basement television room.
The sectional will be big enough to fit Dustin, his mom, dad and five siblings ranging from 7- to 26-years-old.
“It’s Dustin’s favorite thing,” his mother, Michelle Miskell said. “A place to sit with the family, especially with his 17-year-old brother, Colton. It's Dustin's wish.”
In March, Dustin and his family paid a visit to Local 101 during its monthly meeting to accept a symbolic check for Dustin’s wish.
“Seeing this child, and meeting with his family, means so much to our guys that I bet they sponsor another wish soon,” Dietz said. “We're all a bunch of frugal people, but this just tugs at the heart.”