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NC 7-year-old 'makes lemons of COVID-19 into lemonade,' biking through city to raise money

TJ Wilson has sickle cell disease. He was supposed to go to Disney World with Make-A-Wish, but when it got canceled, he chose to do something special.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Remember when you were a kid? Things were simpler then, right? I remember biking to friends' houses all summer long. We went to the pool, stayed up late watching basketball, and even took the occasional family vacation. There was no coronavirus. There was no social distancing or online learning.

Summertime for kids this year is a lot different than it was for many of us. Heck, it's a lot different for them. Last summer, pools were at full capacity; the Toronto Raptors were in a heated series with the Golden State Warriors; airlines didn't require face masks when you took a vacation.

It's not all doom and gloom this summer. At least one Triad kid is making the most of it. As his mom put it, he "decided to turn the lemons of COVID-19 into lemonade!" 

Trenton "TJ" Wilson is seven years old. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. He has sickle cell disease, an inherited red blood cell disorder. His family and friends call him a "sickle cell warrior".

Last summer, TJ went to camp at Victory Junction in Randleman and Camp Carefree in Stokesdale. He hung out with kids just like him. They all live with chronic health conditions.

This year was different.

TJ was supposed to go to camp again. He was even supposed to go to Walt Disney World. The Make-A-Wish Foundation was ready to make it happen.

That all changed because of the pandemic.

The camps had to cancel. Make-A-Wish had to postpone the trip to Disney. It sounds like a bummer, enough to crush a child who's already going through enough this summer. But the letdowns and cancellations didn't stop TJ.

Credit: Montara Wilson

TJ decided to do something special: start a bike fundraiser. He got some help from mom and dad, Montara and Trent Wilson. He set a goal to ride his bike two miles every day all while asking friends and family for donations. TJ said he wanted to raise money for kids like him. He wanted to raise money for kids with sickle cell disease.

All the money TJ raises goes to Piedmont Health Services, Sickle Cell Agency, Victory Junction, Camp Carefree and Make-A-Wish.

The Wilsons call the campaign "Wheeling With Wilson". TJ started biking on June 29. As of July 3, he raised $530. 

The Wilsons say TJ isn't done yet. They have a CashApp link ($WheelingWithWilson) and some hashtags going on social media.

Credit: Montara Wilson

I know this summer isn't what you expected it to be. I definitely had something else in mind, but I think we can all learn something from TJ and his family. Just because summertime looks a little different this year, it doesn't mean we can't do something special. We can all find ways to "turn the lemons of COVID-19 into lemonade."

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