When 11-year-old Charlie Beckham set out with his family for Denmark in June, they had a 4,000-mile trip ahead, by it was really the end of a much longer and more arduous journey.
Charlie, and his family, had just spent the past three years in struggle with leukemia that threatened to end his young life.
The trip was a gift from the Make-A-Wish foundation, an organization that specializes in granting special wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Unlike many of the children who ask to take a trip to Disney World, Charlie’s wish was to visit the original Lego factory Legoland in Billund, Denmark.
Now, his idea is catching on.
“Thee Make-A-Wish people say everybody is asking to go to Legoland,” said Charlie, who is a polite, well-mannered and cheerful as you could ask of an 11-year-old boy.
Charlie and his 9-year-old sister, Lanier, stopped by to visit this week, while hanging out with his grandparents, Bob and Susan Beckham of Martinez. Bob, the former state representative and Republican mover and shaker, is rightfully proud of his grandchildren. Some of you might know young Charlie, but many more probably remember his father, Paul Beckham, who graduated from Evans High in 1987.
The family (which includes another son, Robert, 12 and their mom, Lisa) now resides in Atlanta, and have spent much of their last three years looking at the interiors of hospital rooms with Charlie.
“I missed most of the second grade,” Charlie said,
Years of chemotherapy and hospitalizaions, however, haven’t dampened his spirit at all. At times he was on so many medications, he made a game out of how many pills he could swallow in one sitting.
“First I got to about seven, then 17 and then up tp 18, but that was at the very end,” he said with a grin.
Thankfully, that ordeal appears to be at an end. Just befor the left for Europe, doctors gave Charlie the “all clear,” report and he was able to remove the medical port that had been inserted in his chest for years.
“I threw it into the North Sea. Just like Iron Man,” he said, referring to the scene at the end of Iron Man 3, where Tony Stark throws away his arc reactor “heart.”
No doubt he threw it as far as his arm could manage, which could be quite a toss. “He can really rifle a baseball from third to first base,” his grandfather said.
Charlie says he wants to be out on the diamond again next spring.
That will be something to see.