Eric Petz (1990)

Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from an article in the Capper Foundation Archives, published by the Topeka Capital-Journal. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.

Eric Petz (1990)

By Bill Blankenship

Eric Petz smiled on Monday. Not a full grin; Just a smile.

But to the people at the Capper Foundation who know him, the smile was as expressive of his unbounded delight as a burst of laughter.

Eric, 17, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an inherited disorder of unknown cause in which there is slow but progressive degeneration of muscle fibers.

Edward F. Gibbons, president of Capper Foundation said the muscle deterioration made it difficult for Eric to sit comfortably for very long. Eric often endures pain.

But Monday Eric had a good reason for ignoring his discomfort enough to smile. He had a wish come true.

Last March, Eric wrote the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas Inc. and asked for a computer — but not just any computer.

Michael E. Brace, Make-A-Wish volunteer who presented Eric with a computer system and software, joked about the specificity of Eric’s letter, written with the help of Capper staffers.

The letter included the computer make and model, type of software and where to buy everything for the best deal.

Eric’s letter said he wanted the computer for school work, to write letters and, most importantly for art work.

Eric already has developed a high degree of proficiency in creating art with the help of computers owned by the Capper Foundation. He produced the artwork for a calendar that was a project of his class at the Capper Foundation.

He also works part-time for the Capper Foundation creating picture symbols for the keyboards of communications devices used by Capper students who cannot speak.

After receiving the computer from Brace, Eric demonstrated it for his schoolmates and teachers who crowded close to the youth’s powered wheelchair.

On the color monitor was a house. Eric manipulated the mouse — the little gizmo that moves the cursor on the screen — and with a couple finger taps painted the house red.

It impressed one staffer who said he could never get his computer to work quite as well.

The computer system promises to provide Eric with hours of enjoyment. Brace said that’s what Make-A-Wish is all about — bringing happiness into the lives of children who have life-threatening illnesses.