Imagine you’ve had 28 surgeries and have two devices implanted in your body to help you process food.
Now, imagine that all these issues have occurred, and you’re only 19 years old.
That’s the situation Tyler Anderson of Clarkesville faces on a daily basis. But last Friday, the daily challenges were the last thing on Tyler’s mind as the Make A Wish Georgia group, Action Wrestling, and the town of Tyrone made Tyler’s lifelong wish come true.
Tyrone’s community center was packed Friday afternoon and set up for wrestling, because Tyler’s dream for more than 10 years is to be a pro wrestler. Tyler’s parents, Gerald and Nicole Durden, explained the journey Tyler has been on his entire life.
“Tyler suffers from 22q11.2 deletion syndrome,” Tyler’s mom explained.
DiGeorge syndrome, more accurately known by a broader term “22q11.2 deletion syndrome,” is a disorder caused when a small part of chromosome 22 is missing. This deletion results in the poor development of several body systems, reads the Mayo Clinic’s website.
The article further explains that medical problems commonly associated with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome include heart defects, poor immune system function, cleft palate, complications related to low levels of calcium in the blood, and delayed development with behavioral and emotional problems.
Tyler has been homeschooled and also suffers from autism and gastroparesis, but through all his trials and tribulations, Tyler’s wish has always been to be a wrestler.
On Friday, Make a Wish Georgia helped make that dream come true in Tyrone. The company’s CEO, Tim Early, said the group makes more than 300 wishes come true every year, and many of the children have creative wishes, like Tyler’s.
“That’s where the community steps in and helps us,” he said.
As Nicole Durden looked around the community center and saw the wrestling ring and a large crowd with signs supporting Tyler, she got a little emotional in describing what the effort meant for her son.
“He’s thrilled and over the moon that this is happening,” she said.
Action Wrestling CEO Matt Griffin puts on regular shows in Tyrone, each benefiting a different local charity, so it was an easy choice to get his team involved. He said shortly before the event started that a big surprise awaited Tyler.
“We’ve told him that before you can be a wrestler you have to learn all the basics such as announcing, managing etc. At the end, he will get his shot at wrestling. Even his parents don’t know that’s going to happen,” he said.
Shortly after 3 p.m., the event started with preliminary matches, and Tyler got to make introductions and watch the matches, along with managing a wrestler. As the event drew towards an end, Tyler, whose wrestling name is Super Nova, got his chance in the ring against Kevin Blue for the World International Super Heavyweight Championship (WISH).
As his parents and local celebrities, such as Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial looked on, Tyler beat Blue for the title and sent the crowd into a frenzy. He was presented a belt and brought to a table where he could autograph items for his adoring fans, including students from ClearWater Academy. Tyler may face daily challenges, but on Friday in Tyrone he was crowned a champion.
When asked how he felt about winning, Tyler beamed and lifted his belt. On a giddy day in Tyrone, Tyler’s wish had come true.