At first, Erik Battany may seem like your average 16-year-old kid. But thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Colorado teen recently got the VIP treatment at RTX 2015 in Austin, Texas, and met many of his personal YouTube heroes from the gaming and comedy channel Achievement Hunter.
In 2012 at age 12, Battany was diagnosed with Castleman disease, a rare, cancer-like blood disorder that affects the body’s lymph node and immune systems. Battany’s doctors tried a variety of treatments, including infusions and chemotherapy, but the latter backfired and caused heart failure. Battany had to use a left ventricular assistive device to pump blood through his heart to help it heal itself.
However, one day Battany went septic after bacteria got in through his mouth as he was brushing his teeth. The young teen underwent surgery to remove the LVAD; Battany’s mother Kathy then had to give him infusions at home. But Battany’s kidneys started to fail, which meant he couldn’t take his heart medication, so his heart failed again. Eventually, Battany received a heart transplant in April 2015.
Throughout his entire medical process, Battany would watch YouTube videos during his hospital visits. The Coloradan explained how he’d been watching some YouTube creators, like Markiplier, for a while. It wasn’t until he saw an online ad for AH (shoutout to YouTube’s Fan Finder initiative) that he started to watch the company’s content. Battany fell in love with AH’s Let’s Play videos, and the 16-year-old said AH “became my favorite YouTube channel.”
Battany recalled his favorite AH moment, which was in a GTA V Let’s Play video he watched during his hospital visits. “They were doing a mission, and Gavin [Free] came up on his bike, and he got a weird hop and sort of flew through [the air] and smashed his head into something and died instantly. He messed up the whole mission in one second.”
After finding out that no one had talked to the Battany family about doing Make-A-Wish, Battany’s nurse submitted all the paperwork to the foundation. It took Battany a little while to figure out what he wanted his wish to be. “Originally, I didn’t want to do anything for me,” Battany explained. “I was just asking around to see what other people wanted to do. When the time came, no one wanted to give me an answer of what they would’ve done, because they didn’t want to take the Make-A-Wish.”
After throwing around ideas like a new gaming computer, Battany eventually decided on RTX, because he wanted to do something his parents, brother Billy, and sister Veronica could enjoy, too. Make-A-Wish and AH’s parent company Rooster Teeth granted the entire Battany family VIP tickets to the Austin-based gaming and online video convention.
The next day, Battany headed to the exclusive Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate room at RTX and started playing a mission from the upcoming game. Ramsey, along with AH’s Matt Bragg, Jeremy Dooley, and Jack Pattillo, joined Battany, who ended up beating the Assassin’s Creed mission on the first try.
“Jack bragged to Geoff about how good [Erik] was at the game,” said a very proud Kathy.
Battany’s favorite part of RTX was the Happy Hour panel, which got even better when an audience member gave Ramsey a gift that made him squirm. “Some guy came up and gave Geoff a bottle of snake wine, where there’s a snake with a scorpion in its mouth in the bottle,” Battany said. “Geoff got really scared because he’s afraid of snakes, and it was really funny.”
Battany will always have Castleman disease, even though it seems to be in remission right now. According to his mother, Battany will eventually need another transplant, but if the disorder ever comes back, he won’t be a viable candidate. However, Battany refuses to let his disease control his life, and he advises others in similar situations to do the same.
“Just stay positive,” Battany said. “I never got sad or anything.”
You can learn more about Make-A-Wish children and teens, and even donate to their causes, at wish.org. And if you’re as impressed by Erik and his family as we are, you can follow him on Twitter or Twitch.