5-year-old Braden Van Eperen is taking his family places they've never been.
Late last year, a wish granter from the Make A Wish Foundation asked Braden what he'd like to do. He said either visit the planet Saturn or build a sandcastle.
Fortunately, he was ok with his second choice.
"He's all smiles," says his dad Brent Van Eperen, "Every time I look over he just smiles."
The family lives in Nebraska. They made their first ever beach visit at Imperial Beach on Friday thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation.
By looking at the five-year-old, it's difficult to tell he's battling a terminal disease. Braden suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare form of M.D. affecting about one in every 3500 boys. The disease progressively weakens the body’s muscles eventually making its way to the heart and breathing muscles. Braden's parents have to helplessly wait and hope a cure is found before it gets that far in their son.
"It's harming his body," said his dad. "And there's nothing I can do about it."
This week's trip to California is the first for the Van Eperen family. They've been guests at Legoland and plan on visiting Disneyland. Brent Van Eperen says it is days like these that are so important to his family right now.
"It's tough. You just take things day by day and just do fun things like we're doing here, and just try to live every day and do the most fun things we can together as a family," he said. "He'll remember this as a great day."