Jordan Eischens has always loved hunting and fishing.
Thanks to generous donations from the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Minnesota, Smokey Hills Outdoor Store of Park Rapids and Ice Castle Fish House in Montevideo, Eischens will be able to enjoy the outdoors even more.
Eischens was presented the keys to a new, 21-foot, 2018 Itasca XL Ice Castle Fish House at Smokey Hills Outdoor Store on Thursday.
The Park Rapids 17-year-old, who was born with cystic fibrosis, couldn't believe his dream came true and can't wait to put the house on an area lake and start reeling in bluegills and crappies through the ice.
"I was pretty excited when I found out," said Eischens. "I do a lot of fishing and hunting and camping. I plan to get a lot of use out of it."
A few months ago, Eischens found out that he had qualified for the Make-a-Wish program. According to his parents, Chad and Kris Eischens, selecting an Ice Castle Fish House as his wish was an easy decision.
"Designing an Ice Castle was something he has always wanted to do," said Kris Eischens. "He loves the outdoors. Chad and I hunted and fished growing up, so Jordan has hunted and fished his whole life. He loves all kinds of hunting, especially duck hunting and goose hunting, and he loves fishing in a boat or on the ice. This perfectly suits him."
The Make-A-Wish Foundation in a non-profit organization that arranges experiences described as "wishes" to children with life-threatening medical conditions. In order to qualify for a wish, children must be between the ages of 3 and 17 at the time of the referral. Medical professionals treating the recipients make the most referrals to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Eischens was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 18 months old. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects mostly the lungs, but can also affect the pancreas, liver, kidneys and intestine. Long-term issues include difficulty breathing and frequent lung infections. There is no known cure for the disease.
When Hendri Ernst, manager of the Smokey Hills Outdoor Store, received a call from the Make-A-Wish Foundation about Eischens' wish, he was immediately interested. One call to Jeff Drexler, the owner of Ice Castle Fish House in Montevideo, got the ball rolling.
"A couple months ago, I received a call from Make-A-Wish that there was a kid here in Park Rapids who had a wish for a custom-built Ice Castle Fish House. I told them we would make it happen," said Ernst. "I called Jeff and said I needed help. He said it was no problem and that he was on board. We had Jordan come in and design the house the way he wanted it. It's a pretty nice 21-foot fish house."
Among the extras Eischens put into the house were an electric-lift bed, vinyl flooring, a custom-stained interior, a large live-well and a television. Smokey Hills donated a Yamaha 2800 generator and other accessories for the seven-hole fish house.
"Between Make-A-Wish, Smokey Hills and Ice Castle, all the expenses and taxes were covered," said Ernst. "It's a great feeling. We were glad to step up and help get this done. To be able to give a local kid something he wanted through this program is pretty cool."