Every day we live our lives to the fullest, embracing every wonderful moment that life has to offer until the unpredictable happens. We are hit unexpectedly by illnesses we are unprepared for, which cause obstacles not normally embedded into our daily schedules. That is what happened to 9-year-old Olivia.
One morning, Olivia woke up not feeling like her usual jovial self. She had no appetite, felt light-headed and weak in her bones. What her parents assumed might be a high fever was soon discovered to be something much more alarming after a trip to the hospital. Olivia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her parents felt the world slip beneath their feet, struggling to absorb the information they just received.
“I immediately stopped working because the treatment is very unpredictable. There are so many unknown factors,” said Olivia’s mom.
Olivia endured countless hospital stays over the course of two years, but despite what she encountered, she continued to thrive each day making the most of everything.
Once Olivia discovered she was eligible for a wish from Make-A-Wish, her stress turned into hope and inspiration. Olivia’s interests have always been swimming and watching Disney movies, so it was no surprise that her most heartfelt wish was to go to Aulani®, a Disney Resort & Spa.
In January of 2019, her wish came true! Upon arrival, Olivia was smiling as bright as the sun, ready to embrace everything the resort had to offer. She was a ball of energy, eager to ride every water slide and meet her favorite Disney characters, Tinkerbell and Minnie Mouse. Just when she thought her wish could not get any better, she noticed a bright blue Make-A-Wish pin latched on a girl’s unicorn backpack, one that resembled hers. Being a social butterfly, Olivia approached the girl without hesitation and quickly learned that 5-year-old Arlie was a wish kid from Tennessee.
Arlie had been battling the same condition as Olivia making the two instantly bond over their shared experiences – it was as if they had known one another their entire lives. “Olivia was like a mama bird taking her under her wing,” said Olivia’s mom. Throughout the trip the girls were inseparable, like two peas in a pod. They spent every second together exploring the resort, swimming in the ocean and riding boogie boards – even eating lunch by the pool.
During the wish trip, they were amazed by how much had been orchestrated for their family. Olivia’s wish was everything she could have imagined and more allowing her to dream and let her imagination flow. Olivia and her family relished every second spent together, illustrating their experience as magical. As Olivia’s family would explain, “we were all spoiled to the limit because of their generosity. It’s unbelievable that our little family was treated to such an extravagant vacation. We are so thankful to Make-A-Wish and all its donors who made this healing vacation happen for us. It was so wonderful to create new memories out of something that was so severe. This trip put a big beautiful bow on her cancer journey and has helped us wrap it up and move back into the joy of childhood.”