Nationwide Children’s patient finishes chemo, heads to Disney and Universal thanks to Make-a-Wish

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Ethan Barnhart is having a big year. He turns six at the end of September and starts kindergarten this fall. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment this summer is finishing chemotherapy for the leukemia he’s battled since he was a toddler.

Ethan, 5, is from Marietta and was diagnosed with leukemia in May 2015, according to his mother, Ali Strahler.

“Some days it felt like I didn’t think this day was ever going to come,” Strahler said Wednesday, after her son rang the bell at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to signal his final checkup days after finishing chemotherapy. “Watching him ring that bell meant the world to me.”

Thanks to Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes to critically ill children, Ethan, his parents and his little sister Penelope were scheduled to leave Wednesday for a six-day trip to Disney World and Universal Studios. Ethan is excited about Harry Potter and a ride involving King Kong.

“I’m getting Harry Potter’s wand, and it comes with a spell book. One of the spells can make a gnome talk,” Ethan said, adding that he would cast a spell on his father first.

His father, Tyler Barnhart, was grateful for something else.


“We’ve waited for it for a long time,” Barnhart said. “We knew, I knew in my heart, that God would bless us with a healthy child again.”

The family is thankful to Make-A-Wish for what the organization has done, as well as to family members and friends and even strangers who supported them through this difficult time.

“Everybody goes through such a trying experience, and this is that one moment for them to come together and really just get to relax and have fun and enjoy themselves,” said Kelly Phillips of Make-A-Wish.

“This kind of is like a new start in our book,” Strahler said. “This is a fresh page with no cancer and no chemo and he gets to celebrate that and celebrate his life, more than anything.”

A limousine was scheduled to pick Ethan and his family up at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Wednesday at noon.

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