Wish kid Anna comes from a tight-knit family. She and her oldest brother, Gavin, are particularly close. “We both love the same types of music,” Anna said. “It’s just really easy for us to start conversations about things we like because we have so much in common.”
That close bond made it particularly difficult to say goodbye when Gavin joined the Navy and went to bootcamp. “It was really hard having to say goodbye for a little bit,” said Anna, “but I was able to recognize he’s doing what he wants to do; what he’s passionate about.”
The distance became even more challenging just three weeks later when Anna received the news that would change her life: she had lymphoma.
Suddenly, Anna had to leave school in the middle of 6th grade. Her family moved to Ronald McDonald House because she couldn’t be more than 30 minutes from the hospital. She went in every month for five months to have chemotherapy and spent most of the days in between sequestered in her room with a compromised immune system.
Perhaps the most difficult part for this close-knit family was forced time apart. Anna’s parents took turns staying with her; sometimes seeing each other for just minutes a day as they traded between work and Anna’s room. Her older brother could only visit every couple of weeks. And Gavin was hundreds of miles away at boot camp, soon to be stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
In the midst of all this darkness, Anna found a bright spot, thanks to you. Anna found out she would receive a wish.
Anna immediately knew she wanted to do something her entire family could experience together. “It would be really difficult for (Gavin) to meet us somewhere,” Anna said. So she did some research and became captivated by Okinawa’s beaches, caves, and aquariums. But best of all, Gavin would be there.
“It had been a long time since we had family time all together,” said Anna’s mom, Angela. “This was an amazing opportunity to be someplace we all enjoyed, experiencing new things we’ve never experienced before, and just going on an adventure.”
Thousands of miles from home, in the midst of beautiful scenery, Anna and her family found the healing their hearts needed: time with each other.
“This was the first time we got to relax as a family and not have to worry about phones ringing, doctor visits and emails,” said Angela. “It was a lot off of our plates.”
“It made us even closer,” said Anna. “With me being cooped up in my room not feeling well, I rarely saw my brothers except over FaceTime. Me and my brothers got a lot closer on this trip because we were able to just hang out and be siblings.”
Right now, more than 80 percent of our wishes involve travel. You can help grant wishes for kids like Anna when you donate your unused frequent flier miles.
Research shows, and physicians agree, a wish can help improve a child’s quality of life. These life-changing wishes replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope—helping children battling critical illnesses see the impossible as possible.
“The ability to donate miles can change a family’s entire life,” said Angela. “There’s a short period of time in the chaos of life to build memories and have hope that there’s a community of people who believe in their dreams.”
“A wish is a bright spot,” said Anna. “It gives that unforgettable memory that even though you had this big thing that was scary that may have taken some things away from you, you also have this big thing that was given to you and you get to make lasting, good memories.”