GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – A George County family will get to explore the Smoky Mountains next month, thanks to a grant through Make-A-Wish Mississippi.

Sawyer Holley was born with a congenital heart defect that left the right side of the organ unformed. He recently underwent a third surgery to correct it.

“He continues cardiac care, tapering down some medications,” said his mother Samantha Holley. “He tends to lead a normal life now. He doesn’t get tired as easy. He may have to have procedures in the future, but we don’t know yet.”

Sawyer is an active four-year-old, jumping all across Mullet Hop trampoline park in D’Iberville with his siblings for the wish reveal Friday, March 31.

The nonprofit helps deliver wishes to children with critical illnesses through wish granters. The volunteers in local communities across the state meet with families, help the child determine the wish and act as a liaison between Make-A-Wish staff and the wish family during the process.

Wish grantor Miranda Bishop and her sister, Amanda Bond, have been helping grant kids’ wishes in Jackson and George counties for 15 years, typically around four per year.

“A lot of kids really want to go to Disney World, and it’s beautiful with the Make-A-Wish suite they have,” Bishop said. “But wishes have been all across the board. There’s a reveal next week for a girl to get her dream bedroom. That’ll be a really fun one.”

It’s not the first time the volunteers have gotten to grant a wish to the Holley family. One of Sawyer’s older brothers had the same heart defect and got to make a wish two years ago.

“His original wish was to go to Disney [World], but then COVID happened,” Holley said. “We did not know at the time that they offered more than travel wishes. So we found that out and he was able to do a different wish to get a swimming pool.”

Sawyer’s wish was funded, in part, by an Evening of Wishes fundraising event in January hosted in George County with a trio of other local wish kids in attendance.

Since 1984, Make-A-Wish Mississippi has granted more than 2,500 wishes. The nonprofit leaders say research has shown the granted wishes help children build physical and emotional strength to continue to fight their illness.

“He had his surgery less than six months ago so knowing the struggles he went through, we just get to take a break from it all,” Holley said. “We just truly appreciate Make-A-Wish for making everything happen.”

The family of eight will get to stay in a cabin in Pigeon Forge in April with plans to see the Smoky Mountains and visit Dollywood.