A Florida custom boatbuilder helped a teenager’s Make-A-Wish dream come true by custom-building a tower for his boat.
Dylan Dykens, 17, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 just as school was letting out for summer, says his dad, Doug Dykens, who is a customer service and service manager at one of the largest Yanmar distributors in the country.
The chemotherapy dosages are still being studied for someone Dylan’s age and they made him extremely sick, his dad said.
“Seeing your child lying in the hospital and not being able to do anything for him as a parent — words can’t describe it,” Dykens told Trade Only Today. “I knew we had him in the best place possible and he was getting superior care around the clock, but that helpless feeling is something no parent should go through.”
One night was particularly dark, Dykens said.
“I thought that he might be giving up on us,” he said. “We talked about boating and fishing and his favorite spots. He asked me about getting a bigger boat — one with a tower that he could go flats and inshore fishing on, but yet maybe take a little ways out in the Gulf to get an occasional grouper or hogfish. That night, I saw a light come on in his face. I could see that was how I could keep him fighting. I promised him that boat!”
Jim Nasset at Pro Marine made Dykens a “great deal” on a gently used 22-foot Sea Hunt BX BR, but at the time he couldn’t afford to add the tower that had put a light back into Dylan’s face that night.
When the Make-A-Wish Foundation approached him, he had only one wish — to get the tower he so wanted.
But Kevin Barker at Barker Boatworks in Sarasota heard Dylan’s story and wanted to help. Barker met with Dylan to help him design every detail of his tower.
“[Barker] invited him to spend time in the shop and learn how to bend the pipe and be sure to hit every wish he had,” Dykens said.
“To be able to help a guy that’s gone through what he’s gone through and put a smile on his face, it was a no-brainer,” Barker told the Suncoast News Network.
The tower has rod holders, cupholders, bright lights and a second steering wheel.
“The end result that Kevin was able to pull off with the help of a few vendors that he contacted is nothing short of incredible,” Dykens said. “The tower made Dylan’s boat and the wish he had come true. I will never forget that night in the hospital and I will never forget Kevin Barker and his generosity to Dylan and my family.”
Read more about the boating industry making Make-A-Wish dreams come true in the December issue of Soundings Trade Only.