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Wishes do come true: Make-A-Wish surprises boy with horse

It was Luke Kilzer’s wish to someday have a horse of his own. Not just any horse, but a black one. So when a Black Daddy horse was led into Dakota Winds Arena last week, Kilzer’s face lit up with excitement.

Four-year-old Luke Kilzer, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2015, walks hand-in-hand with his brother to greet his new Black Daddy horse during a surprise wish granting June 17 at Bowman’s Dakota Winds Arena. He is greeted by a group of friends, family and Make-A-Wish volunteers that helped make his wish come true. (Pioneer Photo by Bryce Martin)
Four-year-old Luke Kilzer, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2015, walks hand-in-hand with his brother to greet his new Black Daddy horse during a surprise wish granting June 17 at Bowman’s Dakota Winds Arena. He is greeted by a group of friends, family and Make-A-Wish volunteers that helped make his wish come true. (Pioneer Photo by Bryce Martin)

By BRYCE MARTIN
Pioneer Editor | bmartin@countrymedia.net

It was Luke Kilzer’s wish to someday have a horse of his own. Not just any horse, but a black one. So when a Black Daddy horse was led into Dakota Winds Arena last week, Kilzer’s face lit up with excitement.

While the surprise went off without a hitch during the Lil’ Spurs Rodeo June 16 in Bowman, the horse turned out not to be such a great fit.

Luke Kilzer reaches up to pet his new horse June 17 in Bowman. He received the horse as a surprise from Make-A-Wish, though the group is actively searching for a different horse since the Black Daddy was “too spirited.” (Pioneer Photo by Bryce Martin)
Luke Kilzer reaches up to pet his new horse June 17 in Bowman. He received the horse as a surprise from Make-A-Wish, though the group is actively searching for a different horse since the Black Daddy was “too spirited.” (Pioneer Photo by Bryce Martin)

“It was too spirited for a four-year-old,” said Kelly Braun of Make-A-Wish, who helped carry out the surprise. While he admitted his disappointment, Braun said the group is currently seeking another black horse, though they are tough to locate.

When they locate a new horse, a different event would be held to bring them together.

Four-year-old Kilzer, who lives north of Bucyrus in Adams County, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2015. He spent much of last year undergoing chemotherapy in Minnesota.

When Make-A-Wish representatives approached him and his family, it was obvious what he would want: a horse. Through the power of community, he received much more.

Braun said the group used the ruse of allowing Kilzer to ride a horse to bring him to Bowman where his wish would be granted.

During the rodeo he was asked to step out into center of the arena for his chance to ride a horse. Little did he know that he would get to keep the horse, along with a lifetime of veterinary care donated by West River Veterinary Clinic and a horse trailer, purchased for the family by Bowman and Hettinger sponsors.

Kilzer climbed over the arena’s panels with his brothers and made it over to his new horse.

Several events hosted in southwest North Dakota have raised funds for Kilzer’s family as they struggle with Kilzer’s diagnosis. Those have helped put Kilzer, and his disease, in the spotlight.

“The outpouring of support through a variety of benefits, some hosted by complete strangers, speaks to the gracious decency of rural North Dakotans,” said Bernie Fischer of Bismarck, Kilzer’s grandfather.

Kilzer is the great-grandson of the late Leonard and Clara Fischer, who lived their entire lives in Bowman County.