Austin gaming company makes cancer patient's wish come true

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on July 15, 2013 at 10:33 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 15 at 10:36 PM

AUSTIN -- An Austin-based, family-oriented gaming company got an unusual but gratifying request recently. KingsIsle Entertainment Inc. was asked to help make a young cancer patient's wish come true. They not only made his day, they made him a part of his favorite game forever.

He arrived in a silver stretch limo, but it was a golden moment for Ryan Tucker. The Make-A-Wish Foundation flew the 11-year-old cancer patient and his family from Connecticut to Austin and the headquarters of KingsIsle Entertainment -- the makers of his favorite video game, Pirate 101.

"I thought if I didn't do this, I would never be able to do this again," said Ryan.  

His day started with a company-wide introduction. Then it came time for Ryan to get to work, learning to add his voice to the gaming characters.

"For him to see some of the actors and creators in person and see how a game he loves to play is created is just so special," said Karen Tucker, Ryan's mother. "It's something we could never give him and just an amazing opportunity for him."

When Ryan was three, doctors discovered a large tumor on his brain stem. Surgeons removed what they could. The rest has been treated with chemotherapy. Last year the tumor started to grow again.  It's forced him to miss quite a bit of class. He says playing Pirate 101 is not only therapeutic, but it helps him escape the reality of his illness.

"Like if I had an operation to put my medi-port in, it helped me forget about it," said Ryan. "An MRI - it helped me forget about it. It was just so helpful in my life. It is helpful in my life."

"I had tears streaming down my face," said Fred Howard, the vice president of marketing at KingsIsle Entertainment.

Howard remembers the call he got from Make-A-Wish gauging his company's interest in granting Ryan's wish.

"I went from surprise to unbelievably emotional in a very short period of time," said Howard. "To hear that request was incredible."

"Kids his age move on from one game to another," said Bob Tucker, Ryan's father. "But he's really stuck with Pirate 101. He enjoys it so much, so just seeing his eyes when he walked in."

Ryan's eyes got even bigger when he saw that he's now in Pirate 101 permanently as Ryan the Relentless.

Ryan the Relentless made Ryan the Make-A-Wish recipient all the more happy he chose a trip to Austin to be KingsIsle's King-For-A-Day.

"I can get a dog another day," said Ryan. "I can go to Disney World another day, but this isn't just your typical day."

Click here for more information on KingsIsle Entertainment and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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