By Dillon Kato
An 8-year-old in the South Hills has what he’s always wanted: a treehouse where he can play with his siblings and friends, all part of another dream fulfilled by Make-A-Wish Montana.
Henry Becker was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital defect where one half of the heart doesn’t grow properly while a baby is developing, affecting blood flow.
After being flown to Seattle shortly after his birth, Henry has since had three open-heart surgeries to help his condition, and has been doing well, his mother Polly Becker said.
This spring, he was referred to Make-A-Wish Montana and got to choose what he wanted to do with his wish. The independent nonprofit Montana chapter of Make-A-Wish — an organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions — has the goal of helping 40 children this year.
“He just had a very hard time picking,” Becker said, adding that her son originally had thought of going on a trip somewhere. “And then one day he said, ‘Can I have a treehouse?’ and he just stuck with that ever since.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Henry's father Rob, his twin brother Liam and sister Lydia, as well as his friends and classmates from Lewis and Clark Elementary School waited quietly in the backyard until Henry — wearing a blindfold, was led out of the house by his mother.
When the mask came off, Henry ran to the treehouse, climbed the ladder and pulled open the door, followed quickly by a crowd of his friends.
When Henry poked his head back out, one of the parents in the crowd asked what he thought of it all. He responded by putting both thumbs up.
Henry's treehouse wasn’t supposed to be finished until Christmas, but when his family went out of town for two weeks earlier this month, his mom said the builder decided to get it done while they were gone so it could be a surprise.
“This morning they were tired because we got in late, and I just kind of rushed them through and to school so he didn’t get a chance to look out and see it before he left,” Polly Becker said. “It was just, ‘Come and eat your oatmeal, there’s nothing to see out there.’”
Anthony Cameron of Cameron Remodeling said he’s built a few other treehouses before, but nothing like Henry’s. Over the past few months, since construction began, Cameron said Henry would often come out and sit in a lawn chair to watch him work.
“It’s not even really a treehouse, it’s like a house up on stilts,” he said, pointing out extras like a deck on the backside of the building. “It’s got a nice little spot where he can sit and read his books and look out at the beautiful view they have.”