January 10, 2014, is a day that Michelle and Steve will never forget. It’s the day that their daughter, Julianna, was admitted to the hospital and later diagnosed with an incurable neuromuscular disease. It’s a disease Julianna’s mother calls “cruel.” Exactly a year later, Make-A-Wish Oregon granted Julianna’s wish to have a princess room. The room had everything she wanted, including pink walls that shimmer in the light. Julianna’s mom said the entire Make-A-Wish experience was one of healing and that the room brings her daughter so much joy. She said Julianna now has “a stunning room that is befitting a brave, vibrant and lovely princess who has fought many difficult battles.”
James loved everything about his wish trip to Hawaii – from the waterslide and limo ride to the moonlight cruise and fancy luau food. “He was the ultimate tourist,” said his mom.
This trip comes at the end of a long journey for James and his family. In May 2012, when he was just 10 years old, doctors diagnosed James with a rare nervous system disorder. The once active little boy could no longer swim, climb trees, play in the park or even play computer games. His mom said Make-A-Wish Oregon played a large role in his recovery because the wish gave James something to look forward to – something to work toward. She said it motivated him to work harder during therapy so that he could walk on the warm beach, which was a big accomplishment for James. The family had a great time and James’ mom said he felt strong during his wish.
Music brings her joy, so Make-A-Wish® Oregon teamed up local singer and American Idol contestant Candice Russell to grant Blue’s wish to be in a music video. Portland-based video production company Visual Aid, Inc. created the video, which featured Russell’s song “So Much More” and highlighted some of Blue’s favorite activities, such as swimming and being with her family. The smile on Blue’s face that day was unmistakable.
For her and her family, the wish experience was more than something fun to look back upon. It marked a turning point. “Blue wasn’t doing well in the beginning,” explained Blue’s mom Cyndy. “Since she made the wish, she’s been getting better and better – more alert, more comfortable around people.”
Sixteen-year-old Leena has read the Lord of the Rings trilogy three times and has watched the movies four times. Now she has experienced it. Make-A-Wish® Oregon recently granted Leena’s wish to go see the Lord of the Rings movie set in New Zealand - her first overseas trip. Her favorite part of the tour was being able to peek inside Bilbo’s house and take a picture in front of his lush, green garden. “I felt really great. For a while I was almost in shock because I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
Leena’s mom said the wish came at a great time for Leena, who has been battling the ups and downs of cystic fibrosis. She said the greatest joy was watching her daughter have so much fun on the trip.
Every time five-year-old Mazie sees a tiger these days, she calls it Mik. “Look, there’s Mik,” she would say. Mik is short for Mikhail, the male Amur tiger at the Oregon Zoo. The two met recently while on Mazie’s wish to be a zookeeper, where she helped feed the lions, tigers and leopards; checked for eggs in the penguin nests; played with Mochica the penguin; and even painted an original artwork with the tail of Neka the lion.
Mazie’s dad says she deserves such a special wish, because at age five, she’s already been through so much. He explained that the wish experience has played a part in her recovery. “It definitely did something for her spirit - just judging from her attitude, the way she talks about [her wish granters] and knowing that people outside her family cares about her and will do things like that for her.”
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