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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Boy's Wish To Visit Deere Headquarters In Moline Granted

From the Press Republican

Anne and Dana Monty will remember July 2009 as the month their youngest beat leukemia.

The 7-year-old's days of chemotherapy, steroids and isolation were over. Dylan would no longer take 13 pills a day — a routine he had endured since his diagnosis at age 3. He was free, and they could all finally breathe.

Dylan, though — he just remembers the tractors.

Lifelong dream

 Dylan plays with John Deere toys in his sandbox.

A recipient of a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York, Dylan chose to visit the John Deere Headquarters in Moline, Ill. It was a wish the foundation had not granted before.

"We are delighted to be able to provide Dylan with his heartfelt wish to visit the John Deere Factory," the foundation's CEO William C. Trigg III said in a press release. "It was his lifelong dream that we were proud to make come true."

At first, it seemed John Deere would not be able to accommodate a wish, as they were dealing with company cutbacks.

Wish coordinators asked Dylan if he would rather wait for John Deere or choose something else. He waited.

The family was given 14 days notice to prepare for their trip.

His wish was granted July 12, and began when a limo filled with toys, balloons and John Deere clothing backed into their Saranac driveway.

Dylan, his parents and his 13-year-old sister, Abigail, piled into the car, which took them to a train station in Albany. They took a 14-hour train — their least favorite part of the trip — to Chicago. From there, they rented a car and traveled to "John Deere heaven," Anne said.

Dylan remembers the trip with a shy smile, his face half in shadow from one of his green John Deere hats, one of his countless souvenirs.

Career aspiration

A boy who has lived for more than half of his life with cancer, Dylan's favorite part of the school day at Saranac Elementary is recess, when he can play outside.

If he's not driving his motorized John Deere 6x4 Gator, a toy John Deere tractor, he is rolling toy tractors around the front porch, riding his John Deere bike or playing with his John Deere dump truck or other John Deere collectibles. His future career aspiration: to drive tractors.

Dylan's father, Dana, and grandfather both worked for John Deere. Dylan's grandparents have a tractor that he knows how to drive, back up and dig holes with.

"John Deere has been in the family for a long time," Anne said.

Upon arriving at the headquarters, Dylan was overwhelmed with the attention.

"He was like royalty," Anne said. "There were hundreds of people. He was like, 'Oh, my!' He doesn't like to be the center of attention."

Workers at John Deere had pooled money to provide Dylan with gifts and $500 worth of gift certificates to the John Deere store. The Montys had the merchandise shipped home — items from toy trains and hats to dominoes and a baseball.

"My top bunk is still full of stuff," Dylan said.

Sprawled on his bunk are rummaged-through and even some unopened boxes of John Deere goodies. They match the rest of his room, decorated with John Deere wallpaper, clock, money bank and bedspread.

At the offices of the CEO, the family was treated to catered lunches. Dylan chose the menu.

"Chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese!" he said. The next day's offering was personal-pan pizza.

After lunch, they gave Dylan bread to feed the Japanese Coy fish in their pond.

"He liked that," Anne said. "That's more North Country to him. He probably would have liked to have a fishing pole out there."

Later, they visited a testing facility with fewer faces and more machines. He drove the equipment for five hours, his mother remembers, until tour guides had to politely tell him the day was over.

Driving Skills

Dylan was armed with a photo ID card that gave him swipe access into the buildings at the headquarters. He proudly displayed it, along with his toys.

Dylan brags about his tractor-driving skills.

"I just did it yesterday, right, Dad?" Dylan asked, looking to Dana.

His father nodded, looking down at the 7-year-old with pride in his eyes.

Working at the John Deere headquarters is Dylan's dream job. But workers there told him that the company was so well-loved, employees rarely leave.

"We're going to put in his application now," Anne said with a laugh.