Wish comes true for local family

Laura Sluss and her son Daniel enjoy his new pool. Submitted photo

STRASBURG – A Strasburg family is “just blown away” by the kindness and help from area businesses that helped make a wish come true.

Daniel Sluss, 19, is blind and suffers from an incurable form of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. The condition is a serious one, as sufferers of LGS are susceptible to SUDEP, which is the sudden death of an epileptic. A year ago, his brother Timothy submitted a request to Make-a-Wish, a charitable organization that works to improve the lives of ill or disabled children.

Daniel Sluss’ mobility is limited on dry land, but Laura Sluss, their mother and Daniel’s primary caregiver, said he loves the water. The beach is one of his favorite places, so a pool was a natural request when it came to the Make-a-Wish application. The wish request resulted in a new pool and deck.

“We were blown away,” Laura Sluss said. “Uncle D’s Pools and Spas, they came out here and did the whole thing. They put the whole thing up for us and everything. They even called the water company and everything and had them truck water in here. … We were just blown away. We were not expecting anything like this for him.”

The Slusses moved to their current home near Waterlick about three years ago and had an above-ground pool at their old house. Laura Sluss said that their old pool was great for Daniel and served its purpose but that the new 4-foot deep, 24-by-18 foot salt water pool is a major upgrade.

Laura Sluss, of Strasburg, holds her son Daniel, 19, outside his new 24-by-18 foot pool behind their home near Waterlick. Daniel, who is blind and has been diagnosed with Lennox-Gastuant Syndrome, received a backyard deck and pool through a Make-A-Wish Foundation request after his brother wrote a letter to the foundation. Rich Cooley/Daily

“We had one of those 18-foot round pools that was 4 feet tall,” Laura Sluss said. “That was perfect for him. When they came out and did this, I was like, ‘Oh my!’ This is not going anywhere. This is ‘permanent’ permanent. There’s concrete poured all around the pool to stabilize the whole thing.”

Lowe’s in Woodstock donated and assembled the deck structure and Virginia Ground Covers in Sterling donated gravel for ground cover around the pool’s base. Uncle D’s Pools and Spas, of Luray, facilitated the installation of the pool and the pool itself was donated by Fox Pool Corp., of Pennsylvania. Concrete for the pool’s foundation came from Superior Concrete of Harrisonburg. The water was brought in by Fishel’s Water Services, of Winchester. AutoPilot pitched in with donations of a robotic pool vacuum and a filtration system.

The County of Warren’s Building Inspections Department supplied permits for the project.

Laura Sluss said she’s overjoyed that her son has such a nice area to play and splash around. She said that while he’s had an uphill climb, her son is a miracle.

“He’s had brain surgery and been on a lot of different kinds of medication,” she said. “He’s a great kid. He’s a good boy, through everything he’s been through. He’s a miracle. When he was born, he weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces. … He was 22 weeks old. All the doctors were like, ‘He’s not going to live, he’s not going to live.’ He has a very strong will. … He’s just amazing. … He’s made me a better person. That’s for sure. … It’s changed my attitude.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.