There’s a special energy that radiates from the active and imaginative 11-year-old Carson Dominick.
Christina and Paul Dominick of Swartz Creek knew their baby would face challenges after ultrasounds detected that his heart only had two chambers instead of four.
This congenital heart defect has kept Carson in and out of surgeries as he continues to fight the odds.
Despite the risk and uncertainty of their son’s condition, the Dominick family chooses to embrace each day with equal enthusiasm. Carson doesn’t expect or want to be coddled, and contributes to the home's liveliness while sandwiched between his two sisters.
"What we've seen is the strength a little boy can have from being a tiny baby to what he is now,” Paul said. “It's been an amazing journey and I hope that journey just keeps on going for a very long time."
Carson takes a break from playing video games to take his morning medicine.
Although Carson's parents have tried to give him a normal childhood, his condition has kept him from participating in typical experiences like sports and birthday parties.
A simple cold could be catastrophic to his body and intense exercise taxes his heart and turns his lips blue.
Paul hugs his son before they leave on a weekend hunting trip sponsored by the Flint Safari Club.
Growing up in Michigan, Carson has an appetite for deer jerky and is surrounded by family and friends who hunt.
When a friend nominated Carson for the Safari Club's annual "Wish Hunt." Carson was ecstatic. The hunt allows a disabled child and parent the opportunity to learn about gun safety and hunt a deer.
Carson sits eagerly in a Ranger while listening to the plan for the day.
Carson uses the cart to travel to and from the blinds.
"He was excited, but nervous," Paul said. "He didn't know what to expect and I didn't know what to expect."
Carson's father explained that it's not always easy for him to have fun or feel comfortable because of his limitations. This experience offered him an opportunity to grow more confident in his abilities to accomplish something.
Carson practices on different types of shotguns before the hunt to determine which one he felt most comfortable shooting.
Carson and his father trudge through high grass to look for the buck Carson shot.
"The smirk after he shot the gun and hit the deer...said it all," Paul said. "[That is] the biggest things that stand out to me because after that it's just seeing him smile and knowing that he's having fun and he's comfortable."
Paul and Carson look at a deer skull found in the woods after leaving a blind.
For Paul, the trip allowed him to grow closer to his son. It created time to express their feelings and talk while watching deer.
"We don't get a lot of one on one time to just talk in a family of mostly ladies," Paul said laughingly.
Carson watches from a distance as the buck he shot is gutted and cleaned.
"Watching him shoot a gun at 11, and just being very comfortable and calm...he taught me how to be calm and collected," Paul said.
After watching Carson's shot caught on film, Carson celebrates with the team who helped sponsor the hunt.
"He felt like he was kind of in control when we were out there and I kind of stepped back and let him be a big boy," Paul said. "Watching him get that experience just fulfilled me as a father."
Carson's mother Christina looks on as Carson shows her something from his phone.
Carson's sisters Madison, left, and Morgan tie him up while playing together after school at their home in Swartz Creek.
"[As] I've seen him grow up, he's become like my little hero," Paul said. "Even though he has this medical issue...this kid can do all these things that I never thought that he was going to be able to do."