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Boy’s Make-A-Wish dream fulfilled after battle with cancer

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LIGONIER, Ind. (WPTA) - Four-year-old Greyson Emmert has a little home, all to himself.

Down a hill from his family's home sits "Greyson's Tree House."

It's an amenity any little kid would dream of having.

But when people say he's "lucky" to have it, his parents disagree - because before even 2 years of age, Greyson started his battle with cancer.

"We noticed a lump on his side," Greyson's mother Kate told us, "so we took him to the doctor thinking we should get it checked out."

After a CT scan, Greyson was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor, a rare kidney cancer that affects children.

"We spent the next 11 days down at Riley [Children's Hospital], and they removed the tumor and his kidney, " Kate said, "Before we could even leave the hospital, they started chemo right away, so it was kind of a whirl-wind, and you just get thrown into it."

Greyson would endure that painful treatment for 21 weeks.

"It's hard to remember what happened when they told us," Kate described, "I don't think either of us cried right away. We were just kind of dumb-founded on what they just told us."

Kate and her husband JD documented Greyson's journey.

"I think as he gets older and we explain everything to him, that's why I documented a lot of stuff, as much as I don't want him to remember it. I want him to know he had to go through all this stuff."

At first, Greyson was too young for the Make-a-Wish program.

But when he turned three, that all changed.

"We had volunteers in Indy who took over his wish," Kate said, "We met them at one of his appointments to line up that wish. He told them he wanted a tree house, and the things he wanted in it."

Those who work with Make-A-Wish weren't sure they could make it happen, so they asked Greyson his second wish.

It was... a treehouse!

"They just kind of made it happen," Kate told us, "It took some time, because it's not... A lot of kids like to go to Disney and do all those things... but he wasn't into that. He liked the outdoors so, he was for sure set on it."

Entering Greyson's Tree House, through the covered patio, you'll find a wide opening with vaulted ceiling.

Greyson has so much pride in his own place, guests are expected to take off their shoes before entering.

He has plenty of room to play, with a projector for movies, a mattress for jumping, and hidden underneath the "bumpy slide" is a secret exit complete with motorized trap door.

On the second floor is more play room, with big windows to let in light, and a small secluded spot Greyson calls his 'fort.'

Underneath the raised building is a swing he loves to play in.

Despite his challenges early in life, the 4-year-old is now in remission.

His parents are thankful for his medical care, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and all the local companies who helped make a boy's dream house possible.

"I mean, there are just going to be so many memories the kids create in here," Kate said. "Greyson's four, his sister is one, and Lincoln's eight. There's going to be sleepovers. I think it's going to be great."

After MKS Michael Kinder & Sons completed construction, Noble REMC connected an electric line at no cost.

Big C Lumber donated the shed paneling for the walls.

M.Y. insulated the home, so the Emmert family can use Greyson's Tree House all year-round.

"He's so deserving of it. He's just a strong little boy."

Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is an award-winning journalist and photographer who started his career at ABC21. He is a Michigan native and graduate of Grand Valley State University. Daniel welcomes any story idea. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

Krista Miller

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