Twelve-year-old Victoria (Tori) has plenty of bravery well beyond her years.
When Tori was 10 years old, she wasn’t feeling well and started to get neck aches. Her family took her to the doctor, where scans revealed devastating news – Tori had a brain tumor. Doctors immediately took her into surgery and removed 95 percent of the tumor, but it didn’t end there.
Recovery was challenging for Tori and her family. Eleven days after surgery, the spinal fluid wasn’t flowing properly; her brain was slowing. Again, Tori was in surgery – this time so doctors could place a shunt.
When Tori woke up from surgery, she was completely blind.
“It was devastating,” said Tori’s mom, Vanessa. “Cancer for our family was nothing new. We’ve dealt with grandparents, aunts and uncles with cancer. But never brain cancer, so that was hard. But her being blind is the most difficult.”
“I just thought, now my child is not only dealing with brain cancer, now she’s blind,” Vanessa said. “How is she going to be able to take care of herself? It was a huge shock.”
But Tori approaches life with courage and imagination, and hasn’t let her medical condition slow her down.
She loves to read, write and dream up characters of all shapes and sizes. She’s learned braille so that she can continue to dive into different worlds of fantasy.
Tori particularly likes to write stories about nice monsters and has created an entire cast of characters. So when Tori was able to make her wish, she let her imagination lead the way. Tori wished to bring one of her characters to life as a Monster High doll.
Tori loves Monster High, an American fashion doll franchise in which the characters are inspired by monster movies, sci-fi horror and thriller fiction. She has the dolls and listens to the audio books since she no longer has the vision to read them on her own. She gravitates to the fanciful world of monsters and humans, in part because of the motto: Be yourself. Be unique. Be a monster.
“It teaches Tori that it’s ok to be different, it’s ok to be unique,” said Vanessa.
So Tori took off for Mattel to meet with the creators of Monster High. And with her, Tori brought the idea for Zori Weatherbolt, her Monster High character.
Mattel pulled out all the stops for Tori. They had a huge table with different stations so Tori could hand-select every detail of her new character from hair textures to sounds. Mattel presented her with a custom Zori Weatherbolt jacket and Monster High decorations for her room. Best of all, everything was tactile so Tori could select it by feel.
“There are no words to describe Tori’s wish day,” said Vanessa. “It was a huge, huge blessing. The day was amazing; it was such a joy to watch her come to life.”
Vanessa’s favorite moment came when Tori sat with the writers and directors and gave them ideas for the show. “Tori said, ‘bravery comes from the heart,’ and it made the directors’ eyes wide and mouths drop. What a strong message!”
This wish has allowed Tori to realize what she wants to do and encouraged her to pursue her passion. “Now she wants to go work for Mattel some day!” said Vanessa.
“Everything was my favorite,” said Tori. “It’s hard to put in words how I felt because I was so excited!”
Special thanks to Mattel, the Monster High team, Adopt-A-Wish® sponsor Wells Fargo Bank, and wish-granting volunteers Lauren Bernstein and Josette Bernstein.