In 2006, nine-year-old Kayla was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.
Kayla and her mom left their family in Alaska for treatment in Seattle. “It was hard on both of us being away from everyone for more than 18 months. That was so long,” her mom, Tanya, said.
Kayla missed her brothers and sisters, especially as she underwent chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, a knee replacement and many blood transfusions.
However, Kayla heard about Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington, so she decided to wish for something that she could do with all 11 members of her family. She wished for a trip to Walt Disney World® Resort.
Kayla’s wish trip was a week of family bonding, laughter and fun. “I remember thinking, Kayla was able to be a kid again for an entire week,” Tanya said. “We were able to be together as a family.”
After her trip, Kayla knew she wanted to stay involved with Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington and help other kids share in her positive experience. Despite the medical battles she still faces, Kayla made good on her promise.
Kayla has done everything from radio interviews, to scooping up ice cream, to presenting checks and sharing her wish experience with large and small audiences. She even wears her Make-A-Wish t-shirt for her hospital appointments so she can talk to other patients about our local organization. “I could not think of anything better to do with my time than give to this organization that gave me so much,” she said.
You can find Kayla at home in Fairbanks or every three months in Seattle, where she now receives treatment for heart failure, unfortunately as a result of the chemotherapy.
Wherever she is, she always enjoys meeting other wish kids and talking about the wish experience. According to her, “Make-A-Wish was the best thing that came out of a bad situation.”
Special thanks: Wish-granting volunteers Julie F. Lyman and Sylvia Hanjaja, Dorothy Laiti, Walt Disney World® Resort, Give Kids the World, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Alaska Airlines, Avis