Home builder helps make a wish
Andy Mailer was in for a surprise last week.
He was touring what he thought was a housing project his mom had completed for work in Woodbury.
But when he entered a garage at the Autumn Ridge housing development, more than a dozen people dawning Mickey Mouse hats greeted him with the news: He and his family would be going to Disney World.
As a wide smile appeared on his face, and Mailer, 10, of White Bear Lake let out an "oh."
The trip was made through a partnership between the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Custom One Homes.
The homebuilder's owner and president Todd Polifka said the Cottage Grove-based company teams up with local nonprofits or charities to support communities. "It's our way of giving back to the cities we work in," he said
This year, Custom One decided to team up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In the coming months, Polifka said the company plans to help six additional wishes come true.
Doctors diagnosed Mailer with Shone's Complex, a rare congenital heart disease that occurs in less than 1 percent of all congenital heart anomalies, according to the Children's Heart Clinic.
Shone's Complex is collection of obstructive heart lesions that affect blood flow to areas of the heart. While survivable, the affliction requires several surgeries and life-long follow-up.
"The hardest part was being surprised," said Joe Mailer. A nurse informed him and his wife that she discovered signs of what appeared to be a heart murmur when Andy Mailer was seven days old.
The news changed his perspective Joe Mailer's perspective on life and family, he said.
"You don't sweat the small stuff," Joe Mailer said, adding that he doesn't work 50 to 60 hour weeks as much as he used to. Spending time with family became an even higher priority, he said.
Treatments for congenital heart diseases, including Shone's Complex, have also improved in past decades, allowing people to live with the condition into adulthood.
For Andy Mailer, his condition hasn't stopped him from playing baseball. He's even signed up to for football and wrestling.
Joe Mailer said he doesn't want his son to miss out on his childhood. "I don't want to be the one who holds him back," he said.
Andy Mailer said he looks forward to riding roller coasters and eating ice cream when he goes to Disney World with his family in September.