Turpentine Wildlife Refuge Fulfills Cancer Patients Wildest Dream


In 2017, at the age of 3 Dominic Hamilton was diagnosed with a brain tumor known as medulloblastoma.

“He had treatment for 51 weeks, it included 3 rounds of high dose chemotherapy and 3 stem cell transplants,” said Dominic’s mom, Meagan Hamilton.

In July of 2018 doctors at Lurie Children’s Hospital In Chicago discovered a second tumor. Lurie Children’s along with the Cancer Kiss My Cooley Foundation decided they wanted to make one of Dominic’s biggest wishes come true.

For 5 year old Dominic his one wish was to meet a white tiger in person. Saturday he got to meet some of the residents here at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

“It is the most special experience ever, we are building positive memories,” said Hamilton.

Ike Wever from The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge said being Selected as Dominic’s ‘kiss of hope’ experience was a proud moment for the Arkansas attraction.

“It’s just a really great thing to be able to give back to the community and have such a huge outreach to a lot of people,” said Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Promotions Coordinator, Ike Wever.

For Dominic, the day consisted of a meet and greet with Tanya and Kizmin, a behind the scenes tour of the property, waking up next to a Siberian tiger and having a smile plastered on his face.

Hamilton said this attitude is what she’s seen from her son since the beginning.

“He handles it so well, the hardest part is that he gets tired and it makes him frustrated but overall he is giggling and laughing and being the best little kid,’ said Hamilton.

And for the wildlife refuge, Wever said helping kids like Dominic smile is exactly what they work for.

“We work like dogs to take care of all these cats, it’s a labor of love so whenever a family can come out here and we can grant a wish to Dominic it’s a great feeling to be able to see all of that hard work and effort pay off,” said Wever. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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