Boy spends a special day at Selfridge


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6-year-old Korbyn Chinevere spent October 29 at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer, on Christmas Eve 2020. The visit was made possible in part by Make-A-Wish Michigan and the Michigan Air National Guard.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

    Lt. Shane Bilek, A-10 fighter pilot at Selfridge, poses with Korbyn Chinevere.  Bilek said he looked forward to the day he learned of Chinevere's wish.

Lt. Shane Bilek, A-10 fighter pilot at Selfridge, poses with Korbyn Chinevere. Bilek said he looked forward to the day he learned of Chinevere’s wish.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP – He looked like a kid in a candy store, except he was in a US military installation.

Six-year-old Korbyn Chinevere spent the day at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township on October 29.

Chinevere, from Ionia, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer, on Christmas Eve 2020. The cancer is not terminal.

The day was made possible in part by Make-A-Wish Michigan and the Michigan Air National Guard.

Chinevere’s wish was to be a member of the Michigan National Guard. He is now an honorary member of 127 Wing.

During the day, the kindergarten child was escorted by the police; received his own flight suit; visited the KC-135 Stratotanker, which is used by the Air Force to refuel military aircraft in flight; seated in the cockpit of an A-10; and more.

Brig. 127 Wing Commander General Rolf Mammen said ahead of the day he was unsure of what to expect.

“When he walked in with a big smile on his face and wearing the flight suit, it made it all interesting,” he said. “It’s a busy day for him.

Mammen said other than Air Force officials mentioning that there was a young boy who wanted to come to Selfridge, there wasn’t a lot of leadership.

“It was all these men and women in the organization who took the plunge and made it possible,” he said.

Chinevere’s mother, Toni McCowen, said playing with toys and toy guns sparked the idea of ​​the wish.

“He has a family that was in the military, but he likes to play with a lot of toys and thinks it’s pretty cool,” she said.

McCowen noted that the timing of the wish coincided near the end of his medical treatment. He is being treated at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“It’s a bigger reward than I could have given her,” she said. “I think he will definitely remember this for a long time. I don’t think he’ll take off the uniform or the helmet. He could even sleep in it.

His mother said they noticed that one of her son’s thighs, the site of the tumor, was larger than the other.

“They did an MRI and he was sent to a children’s hospital,” McCowen said. “We found out it was cancer, which was pretty heartbreaking. The chemo was pretty tough at first. The more we went, the better he got better.

Phil Ulmer, 127 Wing Public Affairs, said Make-A-Wish has contacted Joint Force Headquarters to get the day going.

“We had a conference call and they said Korbyn would like to do it,” he said. “We said we would love to host this. Today everything revolves around Korbyn. He is a member of the community. We are Michiganders who take care of Michiganders.

Ulmer said the Make-A-Wish request with Chinevere was the first he has participated in at Selfridge. Ulmer has been at Selfridge for about six years.

“The smile we gave him is worth it,” said Ulmer.

Make-A-Wish Michigan Vice President of Marketing and Brand Promotion Sherri Collins said Make-A-Wish is very happy to grant Chinevere’s wish.

“It’s amazing to partner with Selfridge,” she said. “They made this day such a special day for Korbyn. Wishes are about a community of love and support that surrounds our children and families in vows. “

Collins added that the most desirable children are among the bravest children there is.

“He was diagnosed with cancer in the midst of COVID, and he stayed strong,” she said. “It was his wish because he wanted to catch the bad guys and show how strong he is.”

Chinevere also explored the A-10 Thunderbolt II, also known as the Warthog. After lunch, he drove in a fully functional WWII Sherman tank to the Selfridge Military Air Museum.

Inside the 107th Fighter Squadron building, Chinevere received more patches, tested A-10 combat gear, and received a flight simulation.

Lt. Shane Bilek, an A-10 fighter pilot, said he looked forward to the day he learned of Chinevere’s wish.

“The simulation is as real as it gets,” he said. “That’s what we train on when we’re not flying.

Since 1984, Make-A-Wish Michigan has granted more than 10,500 wishes. This year, the organization hopes to make wishes come true for 400 Michigan children.

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