MI teen with heart condition gets to be Senator for a day with Sen. Gary Peters

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 16:52:51-04

A Michigan teen who wanted to be a U.S. Senator for a day had his wish granted thanks to Make-A-Wish Foundation and Sen. Gary Peters.

Thomas Stephenson, 18, from Greenville, is very passionate about politics and wanted to get a first-hand look at the United States political system. When he was eight, his grandfather took him to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators from Michigan.

Thomas was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which means he was born with his left ventricle and left atrium severely undersized. At just 5 days old, Thomas had his first surgery in a series of three that reconstructed the right side of his heart to do the blood-pumping job of his entire heart.

About a year ago, Make-A-Wish representatives came to his house and asked what he'd like to do.

"I could buy a trip somewhere, to Disney or to the tropics, but I could never buy myself a position in the U.S. Senate," Thomas said when asked why he chose to be a senator for a day.

"It's been a real privilege to be with Thomas and I'm so honored he wanted to be Senator for a day," Peters said to 7 Action News. "He's a young man who's very passionate about his country and very passionate about public service."

His day in Washington was spent meeting with constituents over coffee, sitting in on meetings with farmers and people in agriculture, other meetings about the cost of college, and a bipartisan meeting with Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia.

"It's very interesting to see all of the meetings that go on, all of the behind-the-scenes stuff at the Capitol that ordinary people don't see," Thomas said.

While Thomas is pursuing a career in nursing at Michigan State University, he said that he'll continue to be involved in the political process throughout his life.