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My Life Now: Riley living life to the fullest

  • Riley now

  • Riley then

  • Riley then

  • Riley and family then and now

“ ...your help allows children to experience a moment in time when they do not have to focus on a diagnosis or treatment. ”


- Riley

For those who don’t know him, Riley would describe himself as curious, intelligent, hard-working, and caring. Over the past 17 years of his life, he has created the motto of living life the fullest each and every day. And Riley is all too familiar with this motto due to his diagnosis of congenital heart disease as a newborn.

At just six days old, Riley’s pediatric cardiologist confirmed that a simple heart murmur was indeed a serious heart defect. When asked how his diagnosis impacted him and his family, Riley said that because he was so young during his first diagnosis, he didn’t truly understand what was happening at the time. Yet, now that Riley is older, he said he has a better understanding of just how difficult of a time it was for his family and how heart disease will always be something that he lives with. 

However, Riley made sure to note that he finds joy in each moment he is given and is not defined by his disease. A large part of this positive attitude was Riley’s wish to go to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, which was granted seven years ago. When Riley’s mom, Tammy, was asked about the impact of the trip, she said it was a “celebration of acknowledging that we had been through a lot as a family but that we were at a point where we could come together to celebrate how far we had come.”

Now, Riley and his family continue to be a part of the Make-A-Wish family through volunteering and appreciate how “the Make-A-Wish office still connects with him and his family.” Riley also made sure to note his love for the secret candy drawer for visitors in the office. But all jokes aside, wish kid Riley wants to welcome everyone to volunteer for Make-A-Wish because he believes that your help allows children to “experience a moment in time when they do not have to focus on a diagnosis or treatment” and can “positively impact both a wish kid’s and your life as well.”  

Currently, Riley is a junior at Washington High School and is heavily involved in debate, math, and tutoring. We wish him the best of luck in his endeavors throughout and beyond high school!

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Make-A-Wish® South Dakota
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