Eleven-year-old Sierra has been told “no” a lot. She’s been battling a life-threatening heart condition her entire life, including two open-heart surgeries, and she has a lot of limitations on her activity.
Last fall, right after Sierra was told she could not participate in gymnastics and needed to quit cheerleading because of her heart condition, she found out that she qualified for a wish. And life started to get a lot brighter from there.
Your support meant that Sierra could say “yes” to a wish, and she was able to dream about something that would bring her hope, strength and joy.
Sierra loves animals, and she’s always wanted to be a veterinarian or animal rescuer when she grows up. She’s particularly in love with baby cats!
That’s why Sierra wished to go to Florida to visit the Zoological Wildlife Foundation and play with baby tigers.
Wish mom Natalie said, “Throughout Sierra’s life, a lot of people have said, ‘You can’t do this.’ The wish was different. I was able to say, ‘Go for it! Touch the tigers!’ It was so awesome to see Sierra so carefree with no restrictions… with baby tigers.”
When Sierra traveled to Florida, she wasn’t thinking about open heart surgeries or all the things she couldn’t do. She was focused on her dream to become an animal rescuer someday.
Sierra spent two days at the Zoological Wildlife Foundation. She was greeted by a capuchin monkey named Oliver. She went on to tour the facility and saw lots of big cats—lions, tigers and leopards! She cuddled an owl, kissed a camel, and even held a sloth, armadillo and tiny alligator.
Sierra’s favorite moment was when she played with two baby Bengal tigers named Amira and Nura. These 6-week-old cats brought a smile that says it all.
“I loved the baby tigers,” said Sierra, “Petting them, cuddling them, and playing with them.”
For Sierra’s mom, the highlight was watching her daughter experience un-restricted joy and being “spoiled in the best way possible.”
“Sierra’s wish trip was beyond anything we could ever have expected,” she said. “It was such a treat to see Sierra so free and happy.”
In addition to the time spent with wild animals, Sierra and her family enjoyed beach and pool time every day—a rare treat for a family from Alaska.
Holding baby tigers meant the world to Sierra and gave her strength to battle her heart condition.
Wishes matter. Wishes bring joy. We need you to help make wishes like Sierra’s come true. Donate today
Special Thanks: Zoological Wildlife Foundation, Everglades Holiday Park, Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise, Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, Wish-granting volunteers Liz Ross and Brian McManus, Alaska Airlines, Taco Bell/Denali Foods