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A Princess with a Purpose: Dryden Pays it Forward

  • Dryden meets Disney princess Cinderella!

  • Disneyland was a needed celebration for the whole family.

  • Dryden and her brothers get the royal treatment at Disneyland.

  • One year after her wish, Dryden stopped by the office with wishpacks for other kids.

  • Dryden delivers gifts to the Make-A-Wish offices over the holidays.

  • At the 2013 Walk For Wishes®, Dryden helped hand out awards.
    © Photo courtesy of Brian David Casey.

“ It makes you happy to give to other people. ”

- Dryden, 4

“Cancer and treatments steal a part of your child’s childhood away,” said Shannan, whose daughter, Dryden, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at the age of two.

Between hospital stays and long treatment regimens, Shannan remembers wanting to give her daughter something no doctor could: her childhood.

“The medicines change their personalities, cause them severe pain and sickness, and there is not much you can do to take this pain away from them,” she said. “As a parent, you want to help your child—take their sickness away—but you can’t.”

This toddler with a love of princesses faced nearly 2½ years of chemotherapy, steroids, port surgeries, blood and platelet transfusions, pills and countless side-effects. 

Dryden meets Cinderella on her wish trip to Disneyland.However, about a year into her treatment, her family learned she was eligible to receive a wish through Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington, so she and her family took a much-needed trip to Disneyland ‘to meet the princesses.’

For Dryden and her family, the trip was everything they needed. “I could never thank Make-A-Wish enough for the priceless memories, smiles, laughter and joy that they brought my children,” said Shannan.

And even at such a young age, Dryden wanted to share the joy. During her treatment regimen she often received gifts from families and loved ones to help her through the tough time. “Whenever Dryden would receive a gift from someone, she always wanted to get something or make something for someone else,” remembered Shannan.

So, upon returning home from the wish trip, Shannan talked to her then four-year-old daughter about how she might give back. Dryden decided she wanted to do so by helping Make-A-Wish grant wishes to other kids like her. 

Dryden delivers wishpacks to the Make-A-Wish office.With help from friends and family, Dryden and her mom began collecting backpacks that they filled with toys to give to wish kids to take on their trips, which they called “wishpacks.” 

“Dryden was so excited every time we would go to the store and pick up new things, or when a box would arrive at the door with more items in it!” said Shannan. 

One year after her trip to Disneyland, Dryden and her family came to the Make-A-Wish office in Seattle to drop off 30 backpacks brimming with toys. Donning a tutu and a smile, Dryden danced through the office and brought smiles to all of her wish-granting friends. 

Shannan still sees the way her own daughter has been impacted by the wish. “This trip helped bring the glimmer back to her eyes that had been gone for so long.” 

The wishpacks drive was only the beginning. Dryden and her mom continue to give back to local organizations that help kids like Dryden. They call themselves “A princess with a purpose,” inspired by Dryden’s wish to meet princesses and her dedication to share hope, strength and joy with the kids who need it most.  

Every year, one in four seriously-ill children in Alaska and Washington does not receive a wish because they are not being referred to our program. With greater funding and capacity, we can change this. With your support, we can provide life-changing and transformational wishes to all qualifying children in Alaska and Washington.
This trip helped bring the glimmer back to her eyes that had been gone for so long. ”

— Shannan, Dryden's mom

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