Eleven-year-old Lilly wakes up two hours before school to start her breathing treatments for cystic fibrosis. She wears a vest that beats her chest to clear out her lungs, and she takes more than 50 pills a day.
This spirited fifth grader doesn’t let her condition define her life. She runs cross country at school, even if it means finishing in the back of the pack. And she loves horses. “When I ride, I forget that I have an illness. I feel free.” Riding is good for Lilly’s lungs and it’s good for her spirits, too.
It’s that freedom while riding horses that made Lilly wish to go to Hawaii for her wish trip nearly two years ago. Instead of thinking about treatments and medications, Lilly rode a horse on a warm beach with her mom.
“For once I didn’t feel like my treatments and medications were the most important thing,” said Lilly. “Having fun was.”
The trip wasn’t just about the horses. Lilly also got to see fireworks on the fourth of July and visit the set of her favorite movie, Jurassic Park. Just being in Hawaii was a dream come true. Her mom Susan said, “We were in awe of how much fun she had. She woke up every morning and just sat on the balcony and looked out at the ocean.”
Wish dad Ted recounted the day Lilly’s wish happened at Turtle Bay Resort, “Lilly got teary-eyed when she saw the horses.” Under a warm sun, Lilly sat tall in the saddle as her horse clopped through the woods and led her out onto the beach. Her mom was right behind her. And Lilly didn’t have a care in the world.
“Lilly wasn’t the only one to have a wish come true,” said Ted. “We got to enjoy that sweet child experience [and] the freedom to enjoy her wish without a thought of her condition. That in itself was a gift beyond measure and one that we will always be grateful for.”
It’s been nearly two years since Lilly’s wish, but she hasn’t forgotten what it felt like to receive hope, strength and joy with her family in Hawaii—to forget about medications and treatments and just enjoy the time on a warm beach with her family.
Lilly believes that all kids with life-threatening medical conditions should experience a wish.
When asked why, Lilly said, “I think that wishes are an opportunity for kids to enjoy having a normal life—to see what it feels like—so they don’t have to worry about medical issues.”
You can help kids like Lilly enjoy a “normal life” through the gift of a wish. We’ve been granting wishes to kids like Lilly for 30 years, and we need your help to reach all eligible children with a wish for the next 30. Donate today
Special thanks: Wish-granting volunteers Phillip Ball and Mary Nathanson, Make-A-Wish® Hawaii, Kualoa Ranch, Leis of Hawaii, Sheraton Waikiki, Turtle Bay Resort, Alaska Airlines, Diamond Airport Parking