He could have anything his heart desired. And what 12-year-old Declan McLean-Pauley wanted more than anything was to blow stuff up.
He did, and then some.
The Australian boy was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2015, and has spent most of the time since then in a hospital.
Described as a “real boy’s boy,” Declan was recently told by the Make-A-Wish Australia foundation that he was getting a weekend full of whatever activities he fancied.
“My wish was to blow something up,” he says in a YouTube video documenting his two-day explosive extravaganza.
His dream began with an escort by an Australian Federal Police convoy, complete with wailing sirens and flashing lights.
He was driven to a training facility, where he got to blow up lots stuff with a hand-held detonator. He also was outfitted in full SWAT regalia and participated in a mock-hostage crisis. Then he blazed around in an armored vehicle and was loaded into a speed boat for a high-speed spin around nearby lake waters.
In a far more somber scenario, he put on his Sunday best for a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his Canberra office, and had a sit-down with Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.
His mother, Belinda McLean, said her son could talk of nothing else in the days leading up to his big weekend.
“He’s had a focus other than his treatment, something to look forward to because it can be overwhelming when you’re going through it,” she said. “You don’t realize how important these wishes are until you’re receiving one.”
Declan is currently in remission, but is still receiving treatment.
The weekend respite will buoy the boy as he continues his fight against cancer, his mom said.
“The whole experience is something we’ll never forget … We can’t say thank you enough.”