Jonas George, 16, of Triadelphia recently went on a shopping spree at the Tanger Outlets in Washington, Pa., thanks to the Kids Wish Network.
Jonas, a sophomore at Wheeling Park High School, was born with a heart valve disease called aortic stenosis. He received his first valve repair surgery at 2 months old. When he was 8 years old, he underwent valve replacement surgery. Jonas' mother, Elizabeth George, said she learned this week that her son won't have to receive another valve replacement this summer. He will be re-evaluated again in six months to see if he has outgrown the valve.
''He was born at Wheeling Hospital. Thank God the nurse recognized he had a murmur,'' George said, noting her son's previous surgeries took place at West Virginia University Children's Hospital. He was flown to Morgantown by medical helicopter following his birth.
Jonas George, 16, of Triadelphia holds some of the shopping bags containing items he received his during shopping trip to Tanger Outlets.
Jonas said he looks forward to having his summer free and not having to recuperate from surgery. He noted his favorite item purchased during his recent shopping spree was a pair of shoes from the Nike store, but he also enjoyed getting Adidas gear. Jonas had personal shoppers at both the Nike and Adidas stores. He was given a $500 Adidas gift card and a $290 Nike gift card. He also received a free pair of Air Jordan shoes from Nike. Adidas also gave Jonas a bag of goodies, including a $50 gift card from Home Town Sports and other gear.
''It was a lot of fun. I got to get out of school and go up there ... and get stuff,'' Jonas said.
''It was a great day. He had a smile on his face the entire time,'' his mother added.
She noted Jonas initially received a $100 gift card from Nike. But the store's employees wanted Jonas to have more money to spend and collected another $190 to add to his total.
''At some point in the day, I started to cry. I can't believe that they were so kind. The whole experience was great, and Jonas was so happy and appreciative. I enjoy seeing him so happy. This was a day to look forward to before surgery, and he'll be the best-dressed kid in the hospital. As a mother, I'm completely overwhelmed at how wonderful Kids Wish Network has been to Jonas,'' she said.
George, who is a teacher at Elm Grove Elementary School, noted her son enjoys being the videographer for the Park Patriots football team. The film is used by the coaches and players to prepare for future games.
''He enjoys it, and he's good at it,'' she said of filming games.
She noted he also likes to ride his dirt bike, an activity his doctor scolds him for doing because he takes a blood thinner. That means any injury he sustains could cause more serious bleeding than in someone who does not take the medication.
The shopping spree was the second time Kids Wish Network granted a wish for Jonas. When he was 8 years old, they sponsored a trip to Disney World.