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Community gifts man with terminal cancer a hot air balloon ride

Kelly Elias, Michael’s best friend of 25 years decided it was time to make one of his wishes come true. (WRSP)

An Elkhart man battling a terminal illness was able to live out a wish on his bucket list on Wednesday, riding a hot air balloon!

59-year-old Michael Dawson couldn't stop smiling and saying ‘thank you’.

“I love them all,” Michael said of his friends and family. “This is going to be a great experience."

Wednesday was a perfect day for hot air balloon riding, something many have on their bucket list. But for Michael, he said this may be one of the last things he crosses off.

"Any day could be the day."

Michael has terminal glioblastoma brain cancer and doctors have given him two months to live.

"It's just a horrible experience."

Kelly Elias, Michael’s best friend of 25 years decided it was time to make one of his wishes come true.

She messaged the Lincoln mayor, Seth Goodman, who is also a certified hot air balloon pilot, and together they made the idea into a reality.

"[Michael] is a true friend,” Elias said. “He's always been there for us and my family through everything, and how do you repay that by showing a little gratitude so we're hoping that's what we're giving to him tonight, just to let him know how important he is to all of us."

When Michael was diagnosed in September 2016, his family had high hopes. Doctors were able to remove several tumors and started chemo and radiation treatment.

"Every day you wake up and it's the first thing you think of and the last thing you think of when you go to sleep," said his wife, Michelle Dawson.

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago, they realized the tumor was back and larger than before.

"I just continue to thank him,” said his daughter, Jessica Hicks. “For always being there for our family, always, even now, even with the jokes and the laughter and the fun that he tries to have. it's really tough but he really makes it easy some days, but those are the days we hold onto."

Mayor Goodman piloted the hot air balloon with Michael and Michelle across Lincoln.

“It feels great and it's because of friends and family,” Michael said. “This is a horrible disease that people need to be aware of."

Michael said it isn’t about the amount of time.

“You don't count the days,” he said. “Make the days count."

There’s a benefit planned for September ninth to help the family with anything they need.

There are other items on Michael’s bucket list, mostly travel destinations, and a few others the family wants to keep private.

After the ride, both the Dawsons said the experience was “AMAZING”.

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