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Knoxville teen's wish for improvements at Kodak bird park granted through Make-A-Wish

Campbell Maben is 18 years old and has battled cancer. He said throughout his treatments, he found solace at Seven Islands State Birding Park.

KODAK, Tenn. — Throughout a Knoxville teen's cancer treatments, he said he found solace at a state birding park.

Campbell Maben is a Knoxville 18-year-old who recently graduated from L&N STEM Academy. He attends the University of Tennessee and has battled cancer. Maben is no longer in treatment and is in full remission. He connected with Make-A-Wish East Tennessee and on Saturday, his wish came true.

It was a simple request — to give back to the park that brought him peace during challenging times. So, Make-A-Wish went to work there and started adding the improvements he asked for.

They held a ribbon-cutting event for a new information kiosk, one of the improvements that Friends of Seven Islands State Birding Park has asked for. They also added picnic tables, which were part of Campbell's wish.

These wishes are meant to inspire strength and hope as children face critical conditions. By granting wishes, the organization also hopes to unite neighbors, friends and communities to create life-changing experiences.

They hope that these experiences translate to better outcomes as children between 2-and-a-half years old and 18 years old face treatment.

The park where Campbell found solace while going through treatment is home to more than 190 species of birds, encompassing 416 acres along the French Broad River. It is located in Kodak and even has views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

It is also used as a research and educational facility for schools, as well as a demonstration area for land use and habitat management techniques. Visitors who stop by the park can usually spot songbirds, hawks, waterfowl and even barn owls in the area.

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