Coker College athletes help make a kid’s wish come true

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Student athletes at Coker College teamed with the Make-a-Wish Foundation on Saturday, January 27, to make a little boy’s firefighting and hoop dreams come true.

Aidyn Prescott of Hartsville is four years old and was diagnosed with the genetic condition Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP) when he was eight months old. With only about 700 cases known worldwide, this is a rare, uniquely disabling illness that causes bone to form in muscles, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues. Movement is restricted by bridges of extra bone growing across joints, which eventually form a sort of second skeleton that cages the body with its own bone.

Since his diagnosis, Aidyn’s FOP has caused bone growth in his arm joints, restricted his ability to raise his arms away from his sides. He must move and be moved very carefully, since any fall or hit that might only bruise another child can trigger FOP bone growth. He currently attends school at Southside Elementary, but other than that his time is spent with his mother, Lovie Teressa McWilliams.

The family set up a Go Fund Me page a few years ago, which has helped with some of Aidyn’s medical bills and equipment costs. They also began working with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to see if they could help bring some much-needed joy into Aidyn’s world. Through this association, the family was able to take Aidyn to Disney World, which he greatly enjoyed, but visiting the Magic Kingdom was only one of his wishes.

That’s where Coker College came in. The Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) has worked for several years with Make-a-Wish, raising money for the charity through a variety of efforts and sponsoring children both locally and nationally.

“Each year, the Division 2 schools across the country raise funds for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, so our conference actually has a competition where we’re doing all we can to raise as much money as possible,” says Jenn Bell, Coker Assistant Athletic Director. “But we want to make it real for our students, our campus, and our community, so we want to make that connection by sponsoring a child from the area.”

Though visiting Disney was Aidyn’s first wish, his second dream was to be a firefighter for a day – a dream Coker was able to realize by teaming with the Hartsville Fire Department. On Saturday afternoon, Firefighters Brandon Williams and Holden Moore rolled up to Coker’s DeLoach Center in a bright red fire engine and guided little Aidyn through the operation of everything from the lights to the water pump. To his great delight, he even got to hold the firehose and cut loose with a massive jet of water.

Coker’s SAAC and the HFD gifted Aidyn with his own fireman’s kit, complete with a red coat and helmet, coloring books, a little toy fire axe to take home.

But the firefighting fantasy was only one part of Aidyn’s visit to campus. He loves basketball, so Coker’s SAAC arranged for Aidyn to be named the Sixth Man for the Coker Cobras Men’s Basketball team just before their Saturday game. Accompanied by his mom, Aidyn was presented with a custom-made Coker jersey (size 5T) and honored mid-court with a rousing round of applause.

Coker also arranged a “Signing Day” photo shoot, where Aidyn signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball for the Cobras. His day also included lunch with student athletes, and taking in some of the women’s basketball game.

Bell says it means a lot for Coker’s students to have in-person contact with the kids they are working to help through Make-a-Wish, and being able to meet special children like Aidyn makes it real and inspires them to work even harder.

“It’s important for us, since we are a small school and not a D-1 school with 40,000 students, that we’re not overlooked in what we’re doing for Make-a-Wish,” says Meg Mills, senior member of the Coker golf team and SAAC secretary. “We do everything we can to try and make a difference, and it means a lot for the athletes to have a chance to give back to the community.”

To learn more about FOP, visit If you are interested in contributing to Aidyn Prescott’s Go Fund Me, visit

Author: Duane Childers

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