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23D AGO

Parker Miklos has his Make-A-Wish granted – twice

6 Min Read

Impact

Parker and his family at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week. (Courtesy of Heidi Miklos)

Parker and his family at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week. (Courtesy of Heidi Miklos)



    Written by Doug Milne @PGATOUR

    When asked to describe in layman’s terms the hypoplastic left heart syndrome Parker Miklos lives with, Parker’s parents, Heidi and Frank, paused before responding.

    “He was born with an underdeveloped left ventricle,” said Frank. “Following three surgeries as a little boy to re-route circulation, Parker lives with only a two-chambered heart.”

    A normal human heart features four.

    “Basically, Parker has half of a heart,” said Heidi.

    In medical terms, Parker was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. In layman’s terms, he lives with half a heart.

    Young Parker in the hospital. (Courtesy Heidi Miklos)

    Young Parker in the hospital. (Courtesy Heidi Miklos)

    But, to everyone who knows him – or has ever even met him – Parker is nothing but heart. And, by all accounts, it’s that heart which gets credited for the infectious character and charm of a young man poised to celebrate his 21st birthday this week at home in Grosse Ile Township, Michigan.

    How the golf fanatic (and pretty good stick, too) came to be on-site at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, though, is one that began many, many July 3 birthdays ago.

    “When he was a toddler, we learned about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and how he qualified,” said Heidi. “But we decided to wait until he was old enough to make a decision for himself as to how he wanted to use the wish.”

    Standard protocol with Make-A-Wish is that the age of 18 serves as the cut off to issue a wish. Because of COVID-19, however, Parker was among those recipients granted an extension until his 21st birthday.

    “I always wanted him to have something we couldn’t provide,” said Heidi. “We could have taken him to Disney World, so I hoped he would opt for something money couldn’t buy.”

    Enter the game of golf.

    According to Frank, Parker was raised on the golf course. The two continue to play together most every weekend.

    “He started playing out there with me when he was only about 10 years old – all the members watched him grow up on the course,” said Frank. “Everyone at the course just loved him. His golf etiquette is impeccable, too. He even corrects me when we’re on the course.”

    Young Parker driving the golf cart. (Courtesy Heidi Miklos)

    Young Parker driving the golf cart. (Courtesy Heidi Miklos)

    Because of Parker’s heart condition, when he played golf in high school – much to his chagrin – the use of a cart was necessary. Parker, however, truly wanted to compete precisely as did the other kids on the team.

    “Carts were always a source of stress for him,” said Heidi. “I understand it, he just wanted to be out there walking the course and playing golf like everyone else. At tournaments, he couldn’t help but see people staring at him, whispering about how he looked fine and probably shouldn’t have been given a cart. He got picked on for it. He would rather play his worst round of golf ever before having to use a cart.”

    Parker’s wish of attending this year’s U.S. Open and meeting Rickie Fowler came to fruition just a few weeks ago at Pinehurst, followed by a wildly popular Instagram video documenting the experience.


    Rickie Fowler re-connects with Make-A-Wish recipient at Rocket Mortgage


    “I’m not a big social media person, but how he hit 36,000 likes on that Instagram post blows my mind,” said Heidi. “I realize it was a video with Rickie Fowler, but so many of the comments were actually about Parker. People left comments about how much they loved him and how moved they were by his story. It was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience for him.”

    “Even though meeting Rickie was casual conversation, I think my heart rate might be in the 200s,” Parker said just after the U.S. Open experience. “But this is incredible. This is a dream come true.”

    Parker (right) pictured with Rickie Fowler at last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic. (Courtesy of Heidi Miklos)

    Parker (right) pictured with Rickie Fowler at last week's Rocket Mortgage Classic. (Courtesy of Heidi Miklos)

    Perhaps. But that dream wasn’t over at Pinehurst.

    Upon learning of Parker’s story and wish, Rocket Mortgage and the Rocket Mortgage Classic, in conjunction with the PGA TOUR, quietly – by design – put together a surprise VIP experience for Parker last Tuesday and Wednesday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

    With everything a secret until it happened, surprises unfolded throughout the day. Among them was the opportunity to reconnect with Fowler and caddie for him in the 3-hole AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble.

    “I put him to work and made him carry the bag for me,” said Rocket Mortgage Ambassador and 2023 champion Rickie Fowler. “Meeting and getting to know Parker has been great. At the U.S. Open, I learned he was from the Detroit area and planning to be out for the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Rocket Mortgage really stepped up and made sure he was taken care of.”

    Parker and his family at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week. (Courtesy of Heidi Miklos)

    Parker and his family at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week. (Courtesy of Heidi Miklos)


    In addition, PUMA offered a tour of their trailer on-site at Detroit Golf Club, complete with a new driver designed and crafted right there in the PUMA trailer ... by Parker himself.

    Parker designing his own new driver in the PUMA trailer on site at Detroit Golf Club. (Courtesy of Doug Milne)

    Parker designing his own new driver in the PUMA trailer on site at Detroit Golf Club. (Courtesy of Doug Milne)


    “The hosting and hospitality here at the Rocket Mortgage Classic have been indescribable,” said Frank. “Truly, I cannot think of a way to describe how much this means to him and us.”

    “In a word, these last few weeks have been surreal,” Parker said Sunday afternoon at Detroit Golf Club. “I’ve even gotten inquiries about possible internships in the golf world next summer. Having golf as part of my professional life is something I’ve always dreamed about, but I never knew how or where to start. All of this from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Rocket Mortgage and the PGA TOUR has really helped jumpstart it. I absolutely understand this has been a gift to me, but I also believe that if I try for something, I can get there. So, it’s super cool to see it starting to pan out. If this comes full circle and ends up working out for me on a professional level, it would be very poetic.”

    On Parker’s right thigh is a large, detailed tattoo based on an image he drew as a high school sophomore; an exact replica of his heart as it exists inside his chest.

    “I still have the drawing in my room,” he said. “What can I say, it’s the story of my heart.”

    On his right forearm is a second tattoo, representing the story of life. A particular detail of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” focuses on the Biblical image of the fingers of God and Adam just prior to touching. The widely held belief about the image is that God is poised to give strength and energy to man.

    A look at Parker's tattoos on his right thigh and right forearm representing the story of life and his heart. (Courtesy Heidi Miklos)

    A look at Parker's tattoos on his right thigh and right forearm representing the story of life and his heart. (Courtesy Heidi Miklos)


    “I love being at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but being here with Parker is what makes it so special,” said Anthony Naso of his lifelong friend. “He hasn’t stopped smiling for weeks. It has been an incredible ride for him. He has told me countless times these past few weeks how grateful he is.”

    To best keep it real and strong, a common reaction to gratitude is to pay it forward. And, while these past few weeks for Parker and his family have yielded to him everything from hope, excitement and support, long before this experience, extending love and encouragement of his own to others is how Parker rolls.

    “He is such a giving person and would do anything for any friend … or anyone for that matter,” said Naso. “I feel so lucky to be here with him to watch everything he is getting to experience. But, typical Parker, he’s been telling me how happy he is that I’m here with him. I’m just really grateful to be Parker’s friend.

    A heartfelt sentiment, indeed, Naso’s words reflect how everyone feels about the young, inspiring birthday boy comprised of nothing but heart.

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