From high-performance marine industry types to diehard go-fast boat owners, a lot of amazing people were on-hand at the Desert Storm event in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., last week. But the most amazing one of all had nothing to do with the performance-boat world. His name is Jack Koble and he’s an 11-year-old from Gilbert, Ariz.
Koble has cystic fibrosis. Doctors told his parents he would be lucky to reach age 5. But that’s not what made this vibrant kid, who took two boat rides during the event thanks to Desert Storm’s organizers and the Platinum Powerboat Club’s “Puttin on the Wish” program, so amazing. It was his spirit and attitude that simply blew away everyone lucky enough to meet him.
“I’ve had 17 surgeries and over 80 hospitalizations,” Jack chirped at me as if were listing his Christmas presents. “I now find surgeries enjoyable. The laughing gas is cool because you hear this beep and you think, ‘OK, I’m going to try to stay awake as long as I can.’”
You see, Jack can make anything fun. Even anesthesia.
Jack says he isn’t afraid of dying. He says he doesn’t even think about it.
“Why would I?” he asked me with a big grin on his face.
Why indeed, when he has so much life inside him.
Craig Barrie, the vice president of sales of marketing for Donzi Marine, took Jack on his first boat ride during Desert Storm last Wednesday in a 38 ZR Comp. Former offshore racer Bob Vila took him out for the poker run in Just Chillin, Vila’s 38-foot-long Hustler pleasure boat. Unfortunately, I never got a change to speak with Vila. But I did catch up with Barrie before he left on Sunday.
Talk about granting a wish. Barrie let Jack drive the boat while he throttled.
“Jack is one of those kids with a big personality who is never at a loss for words,” said Barrie. “But he was really quiet when were running 80 mph.”
So that’s one item Jack can check off his wish-list. But there are others, most notably having a girlfriend.
“I wish,” he told me at the end of our time together. “I have hot girls on Facebook, but that’s it.”