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Joe Joe Charles' wish comes true in Waterloo, Ill.

6:03 PM, May 3, 2013   |    comments
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By Heidi Glaus

WATERLOO, Ill. (KSDK) - Plenty of people flee cities and suburbia for a whiff of fresh country air, but the people who tend to crave it aren't typically 5-years-old.

Then again, most 5-year-olds haven't spent more than 120 days of their little life locked away from it in a hospital.

"He was diagnosed at 2-years-old with Neuroblastoma," explained Angela Charles, Joseph's mom.

The diagnosis led to some dark days: chemo, surgeries, radiation. So when Make-A-Wish came calling, it was a silver lining that Joe Joe's parents knew would include shades of green because he's always had a tender spot for tractors.

PHOTOS: Joe Joe's special day in Waterloo

"When I heard he wanted to be a farmer, I was like are you kidding me? I would have picked Disney World or Justin Bieber in a second," said Linda Mathews, a woman who led the charge in making Joe Joe's wish come true.

"This is the most amazing wish I've come across," added Stephanie Hampton-Boeglin, Director of Mission Delivery for Make-A-Wish Missouri.

What's more amazing is what happened next.

"What can you say, but yes?" said Don Schrader, a farmer who went above and beyond.

"We picked up eggs, held baby pigs, got to go fishing," said Charles.

Don let them plant and fertilize with real tractors, but he wasn't the only one who stepped up. There were the pink ladies who gave him and his twin brother a complete cowboy makeover.

And then there was the rest of Waterloo, Ill.: the stage coach cowboys, hundreds of students lining the streets and signs on every corner to welcome a kid none of them even knew.

"No, they're from Kansas City," explained Hampton-Boeglin.

"I still don't know his last name," added Schrader.

"When cancer enters your life the way it has for our family, you see your community, your churches rally around you because they know you, they love you," Thomas Charles, Joe Joe's dad said.

"But when a community who has no idea who you are because they fell in love with a little child's dream roll out the red carpet and welcome us in like they've known us all our lives, I truly mean this Waterloo, Illinois is becoming our new home. It's just remarkable what these people have done," Charles went on to say.

It was a ripple effect that restores faith in humanity and has created a list of memories for the Charles family that is longer than a country mile.

KSDK

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