When Michael VanWingerden and his wife Courtney heard through their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation that 11-year-old Jason wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables in, they knew Metrolina Greenhouses could help.
Once doctors diagnosed Jason with leukemia and he started undergoing treatments, he could no longer enjoy many of the activities he loved, including snacking on fruits and vegetables. Jason’s love for edibles started as a young child when his family tried to grow a blueberry bush in the backyard. The animals made a feast out of the bush every year, and Jason never forgot. When his chance came to make a wish, he asked for a greenhouse to grow vegetables in for his family.
Metrolina surprised Jason with a private tour of its greenhouses, including original owner Vickie VanWingerden’s special vegetable greenhouse. Metrolina’s employees formed a large welcoming committee, held up signs, and cheered as Jason arrived at the greenhouses. He had the opportunity to paint poinsettias, pick cucumbers, plant flowers, and learn about how greenhouses operate. As a parting gift, Jason and his family took home a wagonful of plants and fresh vegetables.
Several weeks later, Michael and the Metrolina crew visited Jason’s house while he was away having cancer treatments to build a greenhouse in his backyard. The crew decorated the greenhouse, outfitting it with everything Jason needed to produce tasty produce — tomato and cucumber starts, seeds, seed trays, and more. When Jason returned home, he received the surprise of his life.
Jason is currently doing very well with his cancer treatments. His Mom sends regular updates from his garden, and he keeps in touch with Michael, who visits Jason’s greenhouse occasionally to make sure things are in working order and see if he needs anything. Once Jason was finally able to go back to school, he posted a picture of items he packed in his lunch that he grew in his greenhouse.
You can watch a video of Jason’s tour on Metrolina Greenhouses’ Facebook page.