Make-A-Wish Foundation to send ailing youth to Eagle Festival

Posted: Tuesday, October 31, 2000

HAINES (AP) -- The sixth annual Bald Eagle Festival will have a special guest this year.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is helping a 12-year-old boy afflicted with cystic fibrosis to realize his goal of watching bald eagles fly in the wild.

The boy will arrive in Haines on Nov. 8, which will be time enough to take in festival events. That includes the release of eagles from the Anchorage raptor rehabilitation center.

Make-A-Wish is a national organization that fulfills lifetime dreams of children with serious and fatal illnesses.

Make-A-Wish regional director Joanne Wiita said the boy, who uses a respirator and can walk short distances, is crazy about eagles.

''He draws eagles and writes about them,'' Wiita told the Chilkat Valley News. ''He said he wants to fly like an eagle.''

Local residents Rich and Barb Kaloostian will host the boy, whose name has not been released, and his mother.

Local businesses will provide meals, transportation, gifts and tours.

The Bald Eagle Festival at the Chilkat Valley Bald Eagle Preserve is held in conjunction with a large number of eagles arriving for some late salmon runs.

The event generally is regarded as the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world.

Peak counts range anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 birds.

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