Ella’s wish took her all the way to the Caribbean. But what she brought back was not your typical vacation souvenir.
Strength. A year ago, a stroke sent Ella to the hospital in a coma. A once active pre-teen who loved playing softball and horseback riding now had to relearn even the simplest of tasks. Though they don’t know what caused the stroke, Ella’s mom Erin said the ordeal made them stronger as a family. Erin credits this to Ella, who has guided the family through all this with her strength, determination and positive attitude. When they got bad news, Ella would comfort her mom by telling her, “Mom, it is what it is. It’s okay.”
Ella showed us her wisdom once again when she chose to take her family on a cruise as her Make-A-Wish experience. “We’re all in this together,” said her mom, “so it was nice to do this together as well.” Leading up to her wish trip, her mom noticed a change in Ella. “I saw the joy in her, and I realized that we hadn’t experienced joy in a while.” And while on the cruise, her mom said she was proud to see how well Ella was doing – how much stronger physically she became. Ella was able to swim, sing and even get dressed without her brace. Erin said it was great “to see Ella forget about the stroke and be a kid again.”
Confidence. The cruise was Ella’s first. She loved the night-time stage productions, the on-board mystery scavenger hunt and, of course, the food. She also thought swimming with the dolphins and getting to kiss them “was really cool.”
When asked how much the wish meant for her, Ella said, “Make-A-Wish helped me feel special. It helped me regain some confidence that I lost.” She explained that people used to stare at her after her stroke, which made her feel uncomfortable. But when she was on the cruise, she said that everyone was really nice, which made her realize that there are people out there who will treat her with kindness, no matter what.
Control. For Ella’s mom, the impact of the wish was equally profound. She said, “Make-A-Wish is about giving that child her power back when a horrible thing happens. Getting sick wasn’t her fault, so to give her the power to have a wish, to do anything she wanted to do, letting her take control back… we are in gratitude. It brought joy back into our lives and reminded us what life was like before the stroke.”
Strength. Confidence. Control. Three special souvenirs for a very special young lady.