April 7, 2016
I first want to extend my gratitude to you and all of the hardworking folks at Make-A-Wish. I was lucky enough to have my wish granted in 2003, and it was an amazing experience. Make-A-Wish went above and beyond to make my trip memorable and they didn’t disappoint. Their attention to detail - before, during and after my trip - was unbelievable.
My wish was to go to France. I had always wanted to go to France, ride on a train and spit off the Eiffel Tower (I was 15 and my priorities may have been slightly different from what they are now). I was born and raised in an isolated town in Alaska (no roads in or out). At first, I didn’t think I was eligible for Make-A-Wish. I thought that the program was only available to children who had terminal conditions. My father’s friend, who was a volunteer, suggested I apply for Make-A-Wish and see if I was eligible. I learned that I was and that my wish was granted – that my entire family was going to Paris, France for 10 days! At first, I couldn’t comprehend the limitless possibilities that Make-A-Wish provided. After much deliberation and contemplation, I decided I wanted to travel abroad and Paris was my final choice in destination.
I finished treatment in June of 2002, but had to wait until the following summer to go because I was behind in school and couldn’t miss it anymore. I also had to wait for medical clearance to travel internationally. In order to get treatment, we had to relocate first to Seattle and finally Portland. The town that I am from did not have the specialists or resources I needed. My mother was able to stay with me throughout my treatment while my father traveled back and forth for work. My sister remained in Alaska, so I was only able to see her when she traveled to Portland during school breaks. For Make-A-Wish to plan this trip not only for myself, but for my entire family, was a wonderful surprise.
I was amazed at the attention to detail and the grandeur of my trip. Not only was every aspect of our trip taken care of, I was also able to choose two day-trips outside of Paris (we went to Giverny and Disneyland® Paris) and was given a send-off party which my friends from home were able to attend. While on the trip, I was greeted by a volunteer in London who provided all the documents and tickets we would need while abroad. I got to sit in the cockpit of the plane, we sat in business class, our hotel was beautiful, and our family had such a great time exploring Paris and the surrounding area. And yes, I did get to spit of the Eiffel Tower.
Make-A-Wish truly changes lives. It allows both children and their families to step away from the hospital setting and re-focus on family and relationships. It encourages children to reach for the unobtainable and think outside the confines of the hospital room walls. It provides hope, opportunity and a light at the end of the tunnel. Most parents will be lucky enough to never need to worry about their child’s health. For the parents of children with life-threatening illnesses, having a program like Make-A-Wish is an incredible opportunity to help bring joy to their sick child’s life.
Due to my unique experience, I am now a mentor for children with cancer and I will begin nursing school this summer. I hope to become a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse or nurse practitioner.
Thank you again for all that you do.
Note from Make-A-Wish Oregon: Andrea was one of 65 wish children who participated in the 2016 Walk For Wishes® event, a family-friendly walk honoring wish kids for their resiliency and bravery, while raising funds to grant more wishes. To read about the impact the community had at Walk For Wishes, click here.