Pitching tents, long hikes, and gathering around a campfire are some of the things seven-year-old Emily loves most. Before she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia Emily spent many days camping with her family. Then, almost overnight, Emily and her family lost that special time they spent together outdoors.
If having cancer meant she couldn't spend time with her family at her favorite campgrounds, Emily decided that she would just have to bring the campgrounds to her family.
"As a family, this has given us back something we not only lost, but had no idea when we could ever get back," said her mom, Jennifer. "We have a place to escape, rest, relax and enjoy every single passing moment, not only with Emily but with each of our four kids."
A community came together to bring Emily the campground of her dreams, complete with a climbing wall, hiking trails, a play structure, a fire pit with tree stump stools, and a cabin. Volunteer Laura Shaw was impressed by just how many people wanted to help build Emily's backyard dream. "Everyone was touched by helping with this wish," she said. "They experienced the Make-A-Wish® magic!"
Today, Emily gets to be a 'normal' kid again. "Make-A-Wish has given Emily back her freedom," said Jennifer. "Not only can she now run, jump, swing, play, explore and imagine, but she can do it in the safety and comfort of her own home. No doctors or medicines or tubes or chemo... she can just be a kid, whenever she wants to."
To Jennifer, the most significant part of the wish experience was "the impact a wish can have on not only the child but the family as well," she said. "Cancer puts a dark cloud around the lives of the children and families. It puts serious pressure on emotions, stresses, and sadness. Make-A-Wish gives the children a glimmer of light. Something they can look forward to, be happy about, and feel better for."
Most importantly, Jennifer says, "Enriching the lives of these sick children has an impact beyond description. It's more than just an experience... it is part of the healing process!"
Special thanks: Wish granting volunteers Laura Shaw and James Ortiz, Chad and Colleen Morehouse of Coast Cabins, Home Depot of Gig Harbor and Home Depot of Lacey, Ranger Sylvana Niehuser of Lacey Parks Department, Jennifer McDonald of Dragonfly Landscape Design, Ted Bilderback of Puget Sound Plants, Black Lake Landscaping, Drew Daly, This Place Is a Zoo, Seattle Cedar, Rosedale Nursery and our set-up volunteers: Julie Peters, Paul & Janice Woolson, James, Enjoli and Shaymus Shaw, Merlaine, Matt, Josiah and Odessa Cook, and Troy, Stacey, Gideon, Savanna, Ethan and Levi Olson