Perched atop the seat of a Corvette Saturday, Kyle resident Ash Crane, adorned in the uniform of a construction worker, waved to the hundreds who lined Center Street.
As the honorary Grand Marshal in Kyle’s 138th Founders Day parade, Crane, who waved back to the polite crowd, could feel he was “very important” in the community.
He also recognized how many in attendance knew not only of his wish of opening a roller hockey rink in town, but also his continued fight against hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect he’s had since birth.
Through the help of the city of Kyle, Make-a-Wish (MAW) Central and South Texas and countless volunteers, Ash Crane’s wish is on the verge of coming to fruition.
By hosting the Ash Bash this past weekend, Kyle officials and community members aimed to fundraise the final $78,000 for the Ash Pavilion, a roller hockey rink to be located in Gregg-Clarke Park in Kyle.
But for Ash Crane, the ability to share his lifelong love of hockey with those in the community is also his goal.
“I felt that everyone was so nice, so I wanted to do a favor for them,” Ash Crane said. “It was so nice of them to come (to the parade).”
Origins of Ash Crane’s wish began early in life. Lisa Crane, Ash’s mother, said their family knew their son would qualify for a wish through the MAW due to his condition.
The Crane family first learned of his heart defect during a routine checkup three months before his birth. Since his birth, Ash Crane has gone through more than 15 cardiac procedures and multiple non-cardiac related surgeries, according to a city of Kyle release.
But Lisa Crane said they waited until Ash was at least eight years old
before reaching out to MAW, in order to allow him to enjoy the experience.
Jill Skinner, chief communications officer at MAW, said the non-profit organization grants life-changing wishes to all children with critical illnesses, not just those who are terminal. She said the wishes provide children the mental and physical courage to fight their illness.
“We believe we’re part of the treatment and we work closely with the doctors that every eligible child gets a wish,” Skinner said. “It’s our vision.”
Typically, wishes are travel related with 50 percent of them involving families going to Disney World, Skinner said. Other times, wishes might involve meeting a celebrity or a professional athlete.
But Skinner said Ash Crane’s wish was unique due to its size and scale. Skinner said Ash Crane’s wish is one of the largest in scope during her 10-year tenure with MAW.
Soon, Stephen Crane, Ash’s father, as well as Lisa and MAW reached out to Kyle officials to pitch their idea of a roller hockey rink.
The idea was received with open arms from city officials who had already earmarked $225,000 for a covered pavilion at Gregg Clarke-Park.
MAW later pledged $10,000 toward the project.
Throughout the process, the project was never shot down and was “met with people who wanted to make this work,” Stephen Crane said.
“It’s never been stalled or received a ‘no’ from anyone. There are so many people who are willing to do this, it’s still a little unbelievable,” Stephen Crane said.
Community members also played a key role in trying to fundraise for the project’s construction. Carol Coburn, owner of KZSM radio in San Marcos, said she joined in to help after learning about Ash Crane’s wish.
Coburn turned to City Manager Scott Sellers, Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell and Craig Cargle, owner of the Railhouse, to craft the Ash Bash. Coburn also reached out to local musicans who donated their time to peform at the Ash Bash.
“Everyone who is contributing is taking ownership of not only granting Ash’s wish, but this is so much bigger than themselves,” Coburn said. “That’s what community is about.”
For Ash Crane, who dreams of playing or even coaching the sport he loves, getting that much closer to the first-ever puck drop is enticing. But he also lauds those who are helping him get there.
“It’s cool they’re just here for me and that they’re just so nice,” Ash Crane said.