Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Christmas Wish Come True

A Kentucky girl's wish came true, just in time for Christmas.

Sheila here with a beautiful story to share as we kick off a new year.

You may be aware of my association with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and right now our chapter (which covers Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana) has more than 900 children, who are fighting life threatening illnesses, who are waiting for their wishes to be granted.

One of them was Ann, whose 17th birthday was on Christmas Day. Ann is not her real name. This teenager is dealing with more weighty issues than most of us can imagine, so she didn't want her name or picture to be used in any publicity for Make A Wish. Ann has cancer, and she was a patient at Cincinnati Children's Hospital until recently, when the doctors there determined there was nothing else they could do for her, and they sent her home to be with her family.

When that happens, doctors notify Make A Wish and tell our wish granting team to rush the child's wish. It's an effort to give the child hope, strength, and joy. In some cases, the rush wish becomes a family's last memory of time together, having fun instead of focusing on the illness.

Ann's wish was to go to Los Angeles. She wanted to walk on the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, see Rodeo Drive, and experience the Pacific Ocean and the beach. While we would love to say money is no object when it comes to granting a wish for a sick child, the reality is that we need a lot of help. Ann needed a private plane which could carry the medical equipment she needed to survive the long trip to California. The flight would cost $25,000. Needless to say, our wish granting team did not have that money readily available, but this is a Christmas story, so you can imagine what happened.

First, dozens and dozens of people offered donations to pay for Ann's wish, gifts ranging from $5 to $5,000! Then the Christmas miracle occurred, when Brian Huber of Reynolds Jet Management heard about Ann. Reynolds and Bank of America stepped in and DONATED the flight! Ann and her family embarked on their journey on Saturday, December 18th, one week before her Christmas birthday. Ann was so excited about her wish, she was able to walk onto the jet without assistance, and she and her family had a wonderful trip, full of magical memories.

Reynolds Jet Management also helped out by getting Ann and her family a sunset helicopter tour of Los Angeles, and Columbia Sussex provided hotel accomodations at the J.W. Marriott/Le Merigot Beach Hotel in Santa Monica.

Ann and her family took a double decker bus tour and saw the homes of celebrities like Tom Cruise, Jackie Chan, and Dr. Phil, along with local landmarks including The House of Blues, Johnny Depp's Viper Room, and the Beverly Hills Hotel. She had a brush with fame when she got to visit High Voltage Tattoo, the group which stars in the TLC TV show, L.A. Ink, and she had her photo taken with some of the artists. She and her family were so thankful, and couldn't believe how kind everyone was.

Unfortunately, as I was posting this blog this morning, I learned that Ann died two nights ago. She was at home, surrounded by her family, just as she wished. Make A Wish President Susan McConnell said, "She made it through Christmas with her family. That was another miracle." I can't think of a better Christmas miracle either. While we all are sad about the loss of her young life, I am proud that the Make-Wish Foundation was able to bring Ann and her family hope, strength, and joy for a few treasured moments.
I wish blessings and hope to you and your family in the New Year.

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