By Nicole Tracy
For 12-year-old Timothy Benusic of Rimbey, Alberta, Canada, a wish came true at the Crater of Diamonds State Park on Aug. 31st.
Benusic was brought to Murfreesboro by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and was accompanied by his grandparents, John and Debra Benusic, as well as his father and younger brother. According to Debra, Tim was diagnosed with Alagille syndrome at the age of one month, and was not expected to live. Alagille syndrome is a genetic disorder that affects multiple parts of the body, particularly the liver and heart. Due to the effects of Alagille syndrome, he suffers from severe pulmonary stenosis and liver disease as well as brittle arteries, bones and tendons.
“Around the age of two or three, we first noticed Tim’s love of rocks. He would pick up any shiny rock and then break it open using another rock, or a hammer, or anything that would break it. He was always looking for rocks, gold or diamonds.” said Debra.
“Tim’s first wish was for his mom to get the help she needs so he could spend time with her, but his greatest wish was ‘diamond mining,’” Debra said. “Tim said he wanted to find enough diamonds to pay off our mortgage, and to buy more diamonds, and to do more mining.”
The forms were filled out for Make-A-Wish earlier this year, Debra recalled, and “it took Make-a-Wish no time at all to prepare to fulfill Tim’s wish. The girls at Make-A-Wish are absolutely amazing, so organized, and no words can express the amazing work, energy, and time that has gone into making each wish a personal dream come true,” said Debra.
The Benusic family spent the morning at the Crater of Diamonds State Park on a guided mining excursion with park “regulars” Al and Alberta Fling. The Flings have found dozens of diamonds over the past 10 years and helped more than 60 visitors find their own gems while at the park, according to Waymon Cox, Crater of Diamonds Park interpreter.
The family was also treated to a special private diamond exhibition. The event opened with a proclamation from Mayor Rodney Fagan, declaring Aug. 31 to be “Timothy Benusic Day” in the city of Murfreesboro. Timothy also has a diamond of his very own, a 15 point gemstone.
The exhibition featured diamonds that were found at the Crater as well as the people who had found the diamonds. Diamond collectors Shirley Strawn, finder of the Strawn-Wagner Diamond, Sam and Dolly Johnson, Kenny and Melissa Oliver, finders of the Silver Moon Diamond, as well as the Flings were in attendance at the exhibition.
“Murfreesboro is an amazing place with absolutely amazing, respectful, and gracious people. You are all very special, and thank you for allowing us to be a part of your community. We look forward to returning to Murfreesboro in the future,” said Debra.