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Wishful Wednesday: Family raises money in honor of son

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CARMEL, Ind. (April 20, 2016) – The Make-A-Wish organization grants special experiences for Hoosier kids battling life-threatening medical conditions.

Every month, CBS4 shares a story about a Hoosier family impacted by Make-A-Wish.

"It is something that stays with you. That is part of the power of the wish," explained father Paul Leichtnam.

Leichtman's son McKenzie always rooted for the underdog; McKenzie loved baseball, and the Hoosier boy supported the Boston Red Sox.

"We still don’t know where the love of the Boston Red Sox came from!”

When it was Mckenzie's time to pick his Make-A-Wish experience, he asked to see the Red Sox play in the World Series. The team just needed to make it there!

And, they did.

The 2004 World Series featured the American League Champions Boston Red Sox against the National League Champions the St. Louis Cardinals.

Make-A-Wish granted McKenzie's wish to be at the World Series. McKenzie met player David Ortiz and learned how to throw a knuckle ball.

"It was overwhelming to see the joy on his face. He was so in his element. Everything to do with sports to be among all the Major League players, it meant so much to the whole family," said Paul Leichtnam.

McKenzie was born with a heart problem. He got a transplant at just 13 days old. For years, McKenzie lived life to the fullest. He was a happy, active young man. Until a few years later, before his junior year of college, McKenzie fell asleep and did not wake up.

"I know Mackenzie is so pleased with everything," said mom Collette Leichtnam.

Now, McKenzie's family gives back to Make-A-Wish for these wonderful memories at Fenway Park.

The Leichtnam's host the "Golf for Kenz" fundraiser. Over the past four years, they've raised more than $100,000 to help make more wishes come true in memory of McKenzie. The average wish costs nearly $8,000.

"That’s quite a few kids and families that are able to experience what we experienced, and I can’t think of a better legacy to pay it forward," said Paul Leichtnam.

Added Collette Leichtnam, "It is our gift to these children and will continue to be a gift."

The Leichtnam family will be inducted into the Chris Grecious Society for their incredible fundraising totals this Friday at the Make-A-Wish Big Wish Gala.

Learn more here about the Make-A-Wish organization and this year's Big Wish Gala.

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