WATSON, Ill. (WCIA) — An Effingham County teenager had his wish granted today. Make-A-Wish presented 15- year old Keaton Gabel with a new man cave, but there was also a big surprise he didn’t know was coming.
Gabel knew he was getting a man cave for his wish, but he wasn’t allowed to see it until today. He was also surprised with a former contestant from his favorite show survivor.
“It is a hard journey. There’s really no way to say it makes it easier, but it makes it easier when you come in contact with great people, friends, and family and community,” Mark Gabel, Keaton’s father, said.
Gabel was granted his wish, but part of it he never saw coming.
“I’m just so excited,” Keaton Gabel said.
Gabel wanted a space of his own, so Make-A-Wish Illinois made him just that.
“I always loved board games and I have no where to put them. There’s also been sort of just a place to have friends come over just play board games,” Keaton Gabel said.
Gabel is not only into board games, but he’s also a huge “Survivor” fan. Not only did Make-A-Wish create a “Survivor” themed wish and man cave, filled with games, snow cone makers, and more goodies, they also surprised Gabel with someone from his favorite show: Butch Lockley.
“It is my honor and my privilege to be invited to be with Keaton tonight. I brought my torch they put out, but I can tell you right now, his torch will burn forever, so what a great guy,” Butch Lockley, former “Survivor” contestant, said.
It’s been a tough few years for him. Gabel was diagnosed in 2018 with Leukemia and Ewing Sarcoma.
“Its really difficult, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t go through it. So its let me meet so many amazing people in my life, but would I go through it again, no,” Keaton Gabel said.
“Keaton has maintained a positive attitude through this whole thing. Just every bump in the road its never really dampened his spirits too much,” Mark Gabel said.
Keaton Gabel’s not done fighting.
“That gentleman believes in himself and his family and I think he’s going to have a great future,” Lockley said.
He’s looking forward to spending time in this new man cave with the support system that’s gotten him this far and surrounded him as he got his wish.
“He’s an inspiration for me to watch him go through this with a smile on his face. Every week we go to the hospital and he’s just ready to take on whatever it is they’re going to throw at him to get through this,” Mark Gabel said.
Today was a big surprise for Gabel. They had tiki torches lined up and down the yard and a “Survivor” themed cake. Make-A-Wish also said at least 17 different places helped make this day possible. Here’s a look at some who helped.
Everlast Portable Building, LLC (Building) – Sullivan
Niebrugge Furniture (Table & Chairs) – Effingham
Bob’s Discount Home Improvement Center (Flooring) – Effingham
Effingham Asphalt Co. (Rock base) – Effingham
J & J Ventures Gaming LLC (Donation) – Effingham
Rural King (Window AC) – Effingham & Mattoon
Wal-Mart (Donation) – Effingham
Glass Plus (table topper) – Effingham
Silk Purse (games) – Effingham
Trent Kreke Tree service (stump & limb removal) – Effingham
Kyle Stortzum (tractor services) – Effingham
Doug Schabbing and Tim Green (build on Tiki bar and roof)
David Keck and Tim Green (inside finish work)
LuAnn Field, Dawn Cameron, Greg Perry, Violet Marshall
Fred Biggs Electric Supply – Mattoon
Kaleb & Dylan Waterman
Tim, Andrew and Michael Waggle
For more information on Make-A-Wish Illinois, check out the link below.