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Make-A-Wish makes young Dickinson man strong; now he prepares for many changes

This undated courtesy photo shows Matthew Jahner, Dickinson, doing what he loves - fishing.

Twenty-year-old Matthew Jahner has exciting changes coming up after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2008. He was attending Dickinson High School at the time.

"Everything is still looking up," he said Friday.

The Dickinson resident headed to Alaska for a deep-sea fishing trip of a lifetime through the Make-A-Wish Foundation in September.

"It took my mind off all the chemo and all the negative things going on," he said.

The full-time Dickinson State University student ends chemotherapy April 20, and a month after he gets the port out, he said. Though he'll be getting check-ups every six months, he has more exciting things on his mind.

Besides "ice fishing every chance I can get," he looks forward to starting work at a local hotel this week. He'll attend Bismarck State College in the fall.

Jahner now volunteers with Make-A-Wish and will be at Saturday's benefit at the Eagles Club. The event starts at 4:30 p.m.

"People donating to Make-A-Wish allow everything to happen," he said. "I don't think I'd be here today if it wasn't for Make-A-Wish."

Jahner said he couldn't even walk up stairs and "didn't feel like doing anything" before hearing his wish had been granted.

He and his father, Dan, had to put the trip off because Matthew was weak at the time.

"It motivated me to get stronger and be able to do something like that," Matthew said. "Being out in a boat all day took a lot of physical endurance."