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Wish has Radtkes riding high
By Amy R. Mack | Daily Herald Staff

A very excited Taylor Radtke onboard her private jet to San Diego.


Laurie and Taylor Radtke share some quiet time.


Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Taylor and her dad Jeff dodge rain drops as they exit the plane in San Diego.


Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

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Published: 10/14/2007 5:59 AM | Updated: 10/15/2007 9:15 PM

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"Hey, Mom, we're popping a wheelie!"

Taylor Radtke's little brother, Blake, 5, sure had that right.

His whole family was popping wheelies Saturday as, for the first time in weeks, the Johnsburg clan kicked back a bit knowing they have hope of saving Taylor's life.

Thanks to Arizona neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Spetzler's willingness to tackle the tricky brain tumor threatening the 7-year-old, the generous donation of a corporate jet and some overnight magic from the Make a Wish foundation, the Radtkes were literally zooming around Saturday afternoon at the San Diego Zoo.

Earlier Coverage
Taylor Radtke
Seven-year-old Taylor Radtke, diagnosed with a rare tumor that threatens her vision and mobility, needs life-saving surgery that few doctors are willing to perform.
How you can help
DONATE - Donations for Taylor Radtke are being accepted at First Midwest Bank's Johnsburg branch, 3805 N. Johnsburg Road, and McHenry branch, 1308 N. Route 31. Funds raised will be put toward research, travel expenses and medical costs.
SEND A CARD - If you'd like to write the Radtkes a card, please send them courtesy of Amy Mack, Daily Herald, 385 Airport Road, Suite A, Elgin, IL 60123.

"Oh my goodness, it's been wonderful," a jubilant Laurie said as she and Jeff herded their ecstatic children through the zoo -- part of Taylor's dream wish.

Instead of the constant fear and worry in their desperate quest to find a specialist to zap the extremely unusually located tumor, the Radtkes only had to worry about where the monkey cage was.

That, after all, was Taylor's main goal -- getting to hold a baby monkey.

Little brother Blake, on the other hand, may forever be spoiled for commercial flight.

His first plane ride ever featured plush seats, each boasting its own movie screen. As the plane roared down the runway, he joyfully blurted the "pop a wheelie" line that could be this family's theme song this weekend.

And if Taylor's nose had pushed any harder on the window, she would have been out on the wing, Laurie laughed.

Not that her parents weren't flying high right with her.

Laurie, again couldn't sleep -- this time because she's filled with joy ... and hope.

She said they'll enjoy Taylor's Make a Wish journey for a couple of days, then think about the next step when they talk to the specialist's office on Monday. Laurie packed the "war room" of medical research, options and records into a bag that's never far ... just in case.

Meanwhile the Arizona doctor is working with his team to determine the best approach for a tumor rare for its location and rapid growth in a child.

If all continues smoothly, Taylor could have surgery as soon as Wednesday or Thursday.

For now, they're treasuring their ride through the clouds, talking to the animals, and feeling very special indeed.

"We are overwhelmed," Laurie said. "So many people have been so kind, so many have prayed for us. It's really been unbelievable."

She suspects it's been even more unbelievable for Taylor on Sunday. She gets to go back to the zoo -- in a special zookeeper's outfit, a gift from a family friend.

"How cool is that," Laurie said. "Pop a wheelie" cool.