CLIVE, Iowa — Every kid dreams of having a cool clubhouse: somewhere to hang out with friends, have sleepovers and make memories that will last a lifetime.
On Sunday, one Iowa child had that dream come true thanks to a little help from the community.
For 11-year-old Ben Kline of Clive, the big reveal was two years in the making.
Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, Ben's family partnered with Make-a-Wish Iowa to give him something special. Originally, the family was going to take a trip to Italy in 2020, but the rise of COVID took that off the table.
"Ben got to thinking and he thought, 'You go on a trip and then it's over pretty quick.' So he wanted to do something that would last a little longer and decided on a backyard clubhouse," said Mark Kline, Ben's father.
Ben drew up the original sketches for the clubhouse, or, as he prefers to call it, his dragon lair. Weitz Construction was able to put those sketches to use while bringing the project to life.
"We sat down with the family and Ben and talked through the things that we wanted to accomplish, and then we incorporated as many as many of those as we could into the design," said Vince Ward, Director of Business Development for Weitz Constructoin.
During the grand opening, Ben had friends and family leave their names on the chalkboard walls. But the real showstopper was a dragon head mounted on the wall, donated by Adventureland, for Ben the dragon-slayer himself.
"That was actually a surprise because I wasn't able to come in here the last few days. They said there was a surprise, and that was it," Ben said.
Ben told Local 5 he is planning on opening up the dragon lair for sleepovers "immediately." And his family is grateful for the support they received while making his dream come true.
"We're just very grateful and thankful," Mark said. "You know that people in Iowa would do something like this, just so generously give to make a wish and to and for Weitz construction, donating so much time to build it."
In 2020, Make-a-Wish Iowa fulfilled wishes for 87 families across the state. They're gearing up to fulfill as many as 150 in 2022.
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