A 12-year-old boy currently in hospice care was able to ski alongside his fellow Boy Scouts and earn a merit badge.
Frank Carpino, of Geona, Illinois, is now mainly bedbound after suffering from desmoid tumors his entire life. The tumors, the first of which was found by his mom when Frank was 2 weeks old, have wreaked havoc on his body, leaving Frank in constant pain.
When Frank’s Boy Scout troop went on a skiing trip last month, Frank was unable to go because of his pain. But Ron Beaulieu, a Boy Scout troop leader on the trip to Wisconsin’s Cascade Mountain, became determined to help Frank.
Beaulieu called Linda "LT" Tomsevics, the Midwest program manager for Adaptive Adventures, a nonprofit organization that makes 11 different sports, including skiing, accessible to people with disabilities.
“I said if we can figure out a way to make this happen, come hell or high water, I’m there,” Tomsevics, a skier since age 6, told ABC News. “It was the wish of Ron who said, ‘I want to do this for one of our other troop members.’”
Tomsevics was the brains and the brawn behind Frank’s special bi-ski that he used to get down the slopes at Cascade Mountain on Sunday. She skied behind Frank as he used his body to steer the bi-ski, which has two skis below a specially adapted seat.
Frank’s family and his fellow Boy Scouts made the two-hour drive to Cascade Mountain so they could make his dream come true. Frank’s dad, Mike Carpino, also woke up early on Sunday to get his own skiing lesson so he could ski with his son.
“We expected one, maybe two or three runs if it went really well,” said Frank’s mom, Kathrine Carpino. “He went down around a dozen times and he had the biggest smile the entire time.”
Tomsevics described Frank as “screaming with wild excitement” as they went down the slopes together. But she said it was the quiet moments, such as when the two rode the ski lift together, that she will never forget.
“More than once he just hung his head over and looked at me right in the eyes and said, ‘I really appreciate what you’ve done for me,’” Tomsevics recalled. “I just thought, 'The grace of this child,' ... knowing what he’s going through.”
Tomsevics said of other special moments, “He’d hang his head back and he’d close his eyes and I’d say, ‘Frank, are you OK?’ and he’d say, ‘This is perfect. It feels great to just close my eyes and feel the wind on my face.’”
Frank also earned the Boy Scout's alpine downhill skiing merit badge on Sunday.
"Watching the Boy Scouts surround and support Frank and make him part of their group demonstrated their kindness and compassion," Cascade Mountain spokeswoman Paula Werner told ABC News. "Cascade Mountain Ski Patrol was able to join in and ski with Frank and be part of his day as well. Personally, as a mother, I admire the strength of Frank and his family. It was an honor to witness people coming together for Frank and his family’s benefit and giving them a day of family fun."
Frank’s mom said she saw a different side of her son during his day-long adventure on the slopes. At one point at the end of a run, Frank’s friends and family sang "Happy Birthday" to him since his birthday was Feb. 21.
“A lot of his smiles recently have been for others, so that we’re not sad, but yesterday was just all for him,” Kathrine Carpino said. “I saw true, happy smiles.”
She added, "He loved that his fellow scouts and family were right there next to him going down. He was just so happy for himself."
Now back home in Illinois and under the care of hospice nurses, Kathrine Carpino said of Frank, “He is extremely tired but he has been awake more than usual and I’m sure it’s because this high is still going through his mind.”