Lone Jack boy shares his wish with other special-needs kids

Make-A-Wish recipients usually ask to spend time with their favorite athlete or musical artist, or want to go on a special family trip.

But Sean Gilbert of Lone Jack had a different request.

The 17-year-old boy, who has hydrocephalus, asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to install a wheelchair-accessible swing on the playground at the Great Beginnings Early Education Center in Lee’s Summit.

The unveiling of the special swing came Sunday, amid frigid temperatures that usually aren’t associated with frolicking on a playground, but it didn’t matter.

Gilbert let out several cheers during the brief ceremony.

“He loves the attention and he had a great time,” said his mother, Paula Gilbert.

Kerry Boehm, the center’s director, said Sean Gilbert’s gift would be “a perfect fit for us” and would be enjoyed by dozens of special-needs students who attend school there.

The swing, which has a seat with a harness, complements a playground that is already designed for children with disabilities. The flat surface is made of extremely soft rubber that’s wheelchair accessible. The equipment is low and made of colorful, thick plastic.

Paula Gilbert said the idea for the swing came about after a family trip in June 2010 to Morgan’s Wonderland, a special-needs amusement park in San Antonio. The park featured an assortment of rides, including a wheelchair swing that Sean thoroughly enjoyed, his mother said.

“I thought would it be great to have one of those near us,” Paula Gilbert said.

The Gilbert family lives about 15 minutes away from Great Beginnings.

Paula Gilbert said George Prokop, the Overland Park man who fulfilled the wish, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation were easy to work with.

“We could’ve put one of those big swings in our backyard,” Gilbert said, but everyone preferred to place it where it would get the most use.

On Sunday, Sean Gilbert enjoyed having the first swing from his gift.

“As long as Sean is happy, mom is happy,” Paula Gilbert said later.