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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- An 11-year-old boy became the U.S. Air Force Academy newest cadet when he arrived for "duty" Sept. 28.
Wyatt, from nearby Parker, Colo., was welcomed into the Cadet Wing through the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Academy's Cadet for a Day program.
For Wyatt, the whole day was a surprise waiting to happen for Wyatt.
"All they told me was that I would eat and walk," he said.
However, Wyatt and his family did more than eat and walk. The day began with Wyatt getting his official flight suit and cap and breakfast, Cadet Squadron 32, followed by a tour and special service at the Cadet Chapel. Then, they attended a chemistry magic show where Wyatt, his mother Patty, father Joe and brother Justin assisted in many chemical reactions.
"The elephant toothpaste (experiment) was cool," Wyatt said. "I like all of them, but my favorite was the liquid nitrogen with the balloon that looked like an acorn."
After the magic show, the whole family received pilot training in the Academy's flight simulators and lunch in the cadet's dining facility. After lunch, Wyatt and his family toured the library, met with the falconry and basketball teams, and then received a weapons demonstration and an airfield tour.
But Wyatt's cadet experience did not end with one day. The whole family tailgated with Cadet Squadron 32 before the weekend's football game. Wyatt was also brought onto the sidelines to watch up close as the Falcons beat Colorado State 42-21.
"Make-a-Wish is amazing," Patty said. "This whole experience is incredible. I didn't expect this much. (The cadets) pulled out all the stops. We are so grateful for all the Air Force is doing for us."
Wyatt is the 44th Cadet for a Day in conjunction with the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The Academy hosts Cadet for a Day approximately four times a year.
"I think the program is an incredible opportunity both for the children that visit as well as the cadets who get involved," said Cadet 3rd Class Savannah Peterson, the Cadet Squadron 32 Cadet for a Day planner. "When you come into it with a great attitude and a willingness to participate, it can change your outlook on life. I am very glad that the Academy gives us this opportunity to make a very deserving child's day. I had so much fun spending time with Wyatt and his family.
"I was constantly humbled by Wyatt's love for life no matter what the circumstances. There were several times throughout the weekend I found myself tearing up just from seeing how much the family appreciated what we were doing," Peterson added.