When Savannah was just three-and-a-half years old, her family’s life turned upside down.
Her mom was eight months pregnant with her second child and her dad was deployed overseas. In the midst of this already stressful time, doctors diagnosed Savannah with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“It was overwhelming, to think of having a new baby with a daughter just diagnosed with cancer,” said Savannah’s mom, Amy.
Fortunately, the military moved Savannah’s family so they could all be together and near their extended family. For the next two years, Savannah went through treatment.
Medically, she responded just as doctors hoped. “From where she started to where she is now is such a huge improvement, but not without its challenges
,” said Amy. From time to time, Savannah still gets extreme anxiety before appointments.
Savannah’s mom referred her for a wish when she was first diagnosed. The family decided to wait until Savannah was done with treatment so she would be a little older, and feeling better, when her wish came true.
“As parents, we thought of her wish as a celebration of the end of treatment,” said Amy. “But for Savannah, it was something happy to look forward to during the difficult times.”
So when Savannah was six years old, she and her family boarded a plane for New York City.
Savannah was most excited to visit American Girl Place. The family spent almost five hours there; there was so much to do and see. Then they explored Rockefeller Center and Times Square, where they took in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple.
The next day was quintessentially New York. They saw the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero and the Central Park Zoo. They even took a carriage ride and visited the Empire State Building.
“Savannah felt like a princess the whole time,” said Amy. “She knew the whole trip was about her. We even told the manager at the Empire State Building that she was on her wish trip, so they upgraded us to the 102nd floor – that’s 16 floors above the main observation deck!”
And Savannah became completely enraptured with the city. She told her mom, “I want to get married here, I want to have my anniversary here. I just love it here.”
“After all of the hard times, I was so happy for her to be able to experience something so joyful,” said Amy.
And Savannah’s Make-A-Wish experience has made an impact on the entire family.
“Now that we’ve had a wish experience, it’s totally opened my eyes,” said Amy. “It’s a great thing that Make-A-Wish has done for so many families, because people are so giving. You don’t want to take for granted that you’ve been given something so amazing.”
Did you know that more than 80 percent of wishes, like Savannah’s, require airline travel? You can help make wishes come true for kids like Savannah when you donate your frequent flier miles. Click here or call 800.304.9474 for more information.
Special thanks to wish-granting volunteers Yelena Mushkatina and Lyla Smith.