17 years ago, Ty Eschenbaum was an athletic teenager living on his family’s ranch in eastern South Dakota. The teen’s world turned upside down when diagnosed with leukemia at the young age of 15, which meant intensive chemo treatments, long hospital stays, and various health complications for Ty’s future. He found himself unable to regularly attend school, play sports, or contribute to his family’s farm. A carefree childhood quickly faded away for Ty and his three brothers, as the family became consumed with helping their son and brother beat cancer.
After a two-year battle with leukemia, Ty was granted a wish to go to Disney World. Ty and his family had the opportunity to enjoy life together following an extremely difficult time. “It truly gave us a time to be together, to laugh, to be grateful, to reset, to regroup, to reenergize, to witness the compassion of others, to forget problems for a while, and the list goes on… there is healing power in a wish,” Ty recalled.
Ty claims that his wish left numerous, profound imprints on his life. “My wish marked a turning point in my life where I had made it through some of the worst parts of my story. I was healing, and I could look forward to brighter days ahead,” Ty explained.
Now, the 32-year-old cancer survivor can say he’s seen those brighter days. He has inspired others through speaking publicly on his experience with cancer. He has founded the Ty Eschenbaum Foundation to provide cancer survivors with college scholarships. “Having been on the receiving end and understanding the profound impact a wish has on young lives, I now have a stronger calling toward volunteering and being a donor because of this deep connection I have with Make-A-Wish.”
Ty once again experienced dark days with the recent passing of his fiancé, Autumn. Still, Ty looked to generate beauty and positivity from this painful circumstance, just as he did with his cancer. “When the love of my life, Autumn, passed unexpectedly last May, I knew that I wanted to do something to remember and honor her. She was the most compassionate, caring person, and no one had a softer heart for children than Autumn did,” he explained.
Ty and Autumn’s family contributed her memorial money to benefit the organization who first celebrated Ty’s healing. Creating an endowment, they committed to fund at least one wish with Make-A-Wish South Dakota every year for forever. The children who receive wishes through this endowment will be known to the family as “Autumn’s Wish Kids.” The endowment just adopted its first wish, 7-year-old Taelyn’s wish to go to Disney World.
“I hope these kids know that their wish comes with the most beautiful guardian angel. Simply getting to meet kids like Taelyn makes any minor efforts on our part completely worth it. Our decision to grant wishes in Autumn’s memory feels so right… I’m not certain that we chose to do it; I think it chose us.”