THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA.com) — A Westlake Village man thought the disease he’s battled all life would never allow him to attend college.
But Friday, Ben Sikorra got his wish.
He is now a student at Californian Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.
It’s a story that is Only On 9.
KCAL9’s Kristine Lazar was there when Sikorra went through all the usual freshmen paces — including getting ID.
“This has been a dream come true for Ben,” said his father Joe.
It is a dream his parents acknowledge they never thought possible.
At 5-years-old, their son was diagnosed with juvenile Batten disease, a rare and always fatal neurological illness.
“We forecast for ourselves just doom and misery,” said Joe.
Ben’s older brother, John, died from the same disease last year.
Lori Sikorra says she and her husband refused to live a life in mourning.
“What do we do in this day to make it big?”, she says, “to make it full, complete?”
For 21-year-old Ben, making it big included finishing his schooling.
So California Lutheran University decided to step in. They wanted to give Ben a chance to experience college life.
And what does he think so far? He’s met other students who were very nice and glad to see there was a Starbucks on the campus.
Today’s orientation isn’t the end of the journey. In the fall, he’ll take classes and will be volunteering with the football team.
“I would love to see Ben in 3-4 years walk across the stage in some kind of commencement, ” said Scott Silverman with California Lutheran University.
Ben believes his big brother would be proud — he knows he’s looking down on him in Thousand Oaks.
For more about Batten disease, click here.