Kayla is an adventurous young woman who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2013. She heard about Make-A-Wish during treatment in a clinic when the organization was mentioned by a social worker. She has loved animals ever since she was a little girl, so she had no trouble deciding that her most heartfelt wish was to go to the San Diego Zoo!
Kayla was in absolute awe when she received her itinerary for the trip. She could not believe that she would be able to go behind the scenes at the zoo and get up close and personal with the wild animals.
During her wish trip, Kayla got the opportunity to be a Junior Zookeeper for a day where she was able to work alongside professional zookeepers as they tended the daily needs of their animals. She also had a behind the scenes tour of the entire park where she talked to the trainers and learned about their jobs firsthand. “It was fun to be a part of something,” Kayla said.
Another highlight of her trip was swimming and playing with the otters at Nurtured by Nature. But Kayla’s favorite part of the week was being able to see her favorite animals, lions, from up close. She was only a couple feet away from them! Even her parents were in awe.
“She had a blast! It was the most amazing thing,” said Carrie, Kayla’s mom.
Kayla has been out of treatment for a year now in August. After two and a half years of fear the unknown, and worrying if there would be a future, this trip was a great source of joy and hope for the entire family. Her mom also mentioned that this trip helped Kayla get a better idea of what she wants to do after college, such as a possible career path working with animals.
“It was a very generous and fun opportunity for the whole family, and it was great to watch her smile the whole week,” said Carrie.
Kayla and her family are all truly grateful for all the memories and experiences from this wish come true. It definitely was a once in a lifetime experience, one that they will never forget.