Wish Stories

A Wish and More: Ashley’s Journey to Disney World!

The Rainbow Connection competitive scholarship program awards $1,000 to exceptional wish children as they pursue higher education. Ashley, a 2021 TRC Scholarship Recipient, reflects on her experience since she first met with The Rainbow Connection.

The Rainbow Connection (TRC) has impacted my life in so many ways beginning with the first time I met Ingrid, my Wish Director. I’ll never forget that day, it was right after Christmas and I was beginning my second round of chemotherapy and was very sick. Ingrid told me I was eligible for a wish and for a moment I forgot I had cancer, there were so many possibilities. After some thought I chose to go to Disney World: the happiest place on earth.

My name is Ashley and I was fourteen when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My life before cancer revolved around school, friends, clubs, soccer, choir and dance. My life changed instantly. I was out of school for most of my freshman year while I went through five cycles of chemotherapy and fourteen radiation treatments. My wish was on my mind while I fought through this cancer and I had something to look forward to once I was healthy.

I beat the cancer and it was time to celebrate and regain my life but the side effects took over my body. My walking became difficult and my muscles became weak. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy which was induced by the chemotherapy and lost the ability to walk. My Disney wish was temporarily put on hold and physical therapy began. Treatment was though but eventually my baby steps turned into strides until eventually I could walk short distances while wearing braces. TRC was by my side the entire time. They sent me “happy packs” when I was feeling defeated, e-mailed and called to check-in. TRC was a huge part of my recovery and gave me a reason to stay focused and regain my strength to walk.

TRC’s Walk for Kids, a 5k walk supporting sick kids was held in Fall of 2019. My family and friends created “Team Ashley” on my behalf and raised money to support granting wishes. I was becoming stronger every day and decided I wanted to try to walk some of the course. I put my braces on and began walking. I did it! We were the last team to complete the race, but I completed the entire 3.1 mile walk. I can still hear the cheers of everyone surrounding the finish line.

TRC has proven to be more than just an organization that grants wishes for sick kids. It also supports the families that are coping with hardships. One thing I learned from my diagnosis is that cancer affects the entire family. We struggled financially because my parents missed work to be by my side while I was in the hospital, receiving chemotherapy, surgeries, appointments and therapy. TRC was there to help my family when we needed it most, whether it was a utility bill, groceries or Christmas parties and presents or an afternoon of fun activities.

Four years later, I am a senior in high school and thriving, physically, mentally and academically. We made it through the pandemic, I’m back in school, preparing to graduate and my Disney World wish is finally going to come true this summer. I’m still in therapy, but look forward to being able to walk every single park in Disney World. I cannot think of a better way to put my high school years behind me and prepare for my future as I plan to go to Saginaw Valley State University to become a Nurse.

Ashley’s wish came true this month and she had a blast celebrating all her accomplishments before she starts her freshman year of college! We are very excited to continue to support Ashley through her education and wish her, along with our other recipients, the best of luck in their academic year!

Gavin’s Disney World Wish Came True!

Gavin, along with 33 other wish children since January of this year, received his wish to go to Disney World! Each family stayed at Give Kids the World Village, a private resort reserved for wish families that features a spa, movie theater, mini golf, carousel, ice cream shop, and more!

For Gavin, this was the chance to celebrate life with his family after everything he had been through. As soon as  his oncologist mentioned the possibility of a wish, Gavin knew he wanted to go to Disney World. The Rainbow Connection worked to make that happen as soon as it was safe to do so. From the very start, it was an experience full of joy for Gavin and his family! When the limo picked up the family to bring them to the airport, Gavin’s mom sent the following photo with Gavin saying, “I just can’t stop smiling!”

Gavin and his brother ate ice cream for breakfast and dinner five days in a row – and he thought it was the coolest thing. There was never any mention of cancer, scans or pokes. He was just there, having the time of his life, being a kid and eating ice cream.

Gavin’s mom says, “They say that Magic Kingdom is where dreams come true but honestly, it’s organizations like The Rainbow Connection that dreams actually do come true for these kids!” ​

 

The Opportunity to Dream: Austin’s Wish Provides Hope and Perseverance

The Rainbow Connection competitive scholarship program awards $1,000 to exceptional wish children as they pursue higher education. Austin, a 2020 TRC Scholarship Recipient, reflects on his wish for a shopping spree. When asked to describe how The Rainbow Connection made an impact on his life, he responded…

“I was first diagnosed with melanoma my sophomore year of high school – which led to a two year cancer battle. Understanding that I had a wish that could be granted at any time helped give me courage and something to look forward to while going through the various medical treatments. My wish consisted of a shopping-spree and dinner with very close friends. After going through two hard and long years battling cancer, it was truly a day and experience that will last a lifetime for me.

Upon first hearing about my wish, I started to think that maybe there was a light at the end of the tunnel. After the surgeries that removed my cancer were completed, I was placed on a medication called Interferon for a year, which was used to help prevent my cancer from coming back. While going through the treatment, I would try to remind myself about the wish I was to receive. At the time, I did not know what wish I wanted to receive, so, thinking about the particular wish I would want distracted my mind from the terrible side effects of Interferon. The sense of hope and positivity my wish instilled really did help me persevere through my cancer battle.

My wish also impacted me when I received the wish itself. When it came time to receive my wish, I was thankfully cancer-free. I chose a shopping spree and I was lucky enough to bring my brother, close friend and girlfriend. The day started by picking up my loved ones and me in our very own limousine! I felt so special. We drove to our local mall and I was able to buy whatever I pleased! I also let my loved ones buy something of their liking as well – because they had been there for me throughout my entire battle with cancer. We finished the day by going to an awesome restaurant. This was a day that was beyond special to me because the wish was something that I had been looking forward to throughout my battle with cancer. I know from personal experience how much a wish can positively affect a person’s life. After having so many negative experiences, I was finally able to experience something so wholesome that I would remember for the rest of my life.”

The Rainbow Connection’s impact began early for Austin as he was able to imagine the possibilities of a wish to help get him through treatment, which led to a very wholesome and “magical” day of fun surrounded by friends. We are very excited to continue to support him through his education and wish him, along with our other recipients, the best of luck in their academic year!

 

Pryce wished for a Lego Shopping Spree!

In August 2018, at a mere 3 years old, Wish Child Pryce was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. He is the youngest of 5 children, and this hit their family hard. The cancer initiated with a tumor on his right kidney and had spread to his bones and bone marrow. Extensive treatment began immediately for sweet Pryce. In early April of 2019, Pryce received a stem cell transplant as part of his plan. He also received Immunotherapy and radiation.

This past January, the family received news that Pryce’s cancer had spread and he had emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor. Following the surgery he received proton radiation. Treatment locally had run its course, and there were some options available – but Pryce and his parents would have to travel to New York in order to receive these cutting edge treatment options. Just last week Pryce and his parents received the green light that it was safe enough to travel to New York for Pryce! Prior to departing, Pryce decided on a SHOPPING SPREE as his wish so he could purchase Legos kits to take with him on his journey. The family car was filled with suitcases and LEGOS as they headed out on this most exciting journey.

We are wishing Pryce the best while he is being brave in New York!

Abrahm’s Disney World Wish

Abrahm, age 3, wished to travel to Disney World with his mom, dad and big brother, Sam. His wish came true this February when the family got to go on their first ever trip together. Abrahm LOVES Sesame Street and couldn’t stop smiling when he met Elmo and Cookie Monster at Sesame Street Land!

His mom, Kristina, describes their trip, “The most magical part for me was how I was finally able to let go of my constant worries and fears surrounding our son’s congenital heart defect, hydrocephalus and epilepsy. I wasn’t constantly questioning his coloring, if his oxygen stats were low, if we were tiring him out too much…we just LIVED!”

   

Another highlight for the entire family was visiting the beach. For most of the time, Abe and mom sat in the sand, scooping and throwing it. Every time, Abrahm would shout “Ker-plunk!” “Seems simple but it was magical” says Kristina.  When asked about her favorite moment, Kristina says “The best parts are things I can’t really show – seeing Abe doing things independently with so much pure joy. Noticing his brother Sam smile and laugh like he hasn’t in a long time.”

To learn how to get involved with The Rainbow Connection and see more wish stories, follow us on Facebook @RainbowConnectionMichigan.

Alma’s Wish for a Play Date with Aladdin

Alma, age 4 (she’s turning 5 in just one month!), knew exactly what she wanted when she met with The Rainbow Connection back in the summer of 2018. She LOVES Disney characters, especially Aladdin! She wished to travel to Disney World with her family and have a play date with Aladdin.

Her mom describes how special Alma’s wish was, “Alma’s wish trip was pure magic. Nearly every moment of the trip was filled with such joy. Alma’s smile and energy never faded. It was such a nice change for her to feel special and taken care of because she was having fun, not because she was getting poked or getting chemotherapy.”

           

“So many of our special moments came from when she got to meet the characters at Disney World. Each of them took such a special care in being with her, she really felt special. We loved her “play date” with Aladdin. They really got to hang out like good friends. They hugged, colored pictures for each other, played hide-and-seek, danced, and just talked. We really couldn’t have imagined anything more amazing.”

          

Wish Family Picnic 2019

The weather was perfect  for our annual Summer Wish Picnic! Many of our wish families joined us for the day to enjoy inflatables, face painting, outdoor games, pony rides, Harley rides from Wolverine Harley-Davidson, and more! A big thank you to the Sterling Heights Fire Fighters Local 1557, especially Patti & Tony Lulek, who put so much time, effort, and heart into making this picnic special for our wish families, and ensuring that we were all well fed! Amazing sponsors for the picnic included Allegiant nonstopChildren’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation and Wolverine Harley-Davidson! Our new partner, Guernsey Farms Dairy joined us for the day to hand out yummy ice cream! It was definitely a great way to celebrate summer!

Jay’s NYC Wish

Food and history describe Wish Child Jay best. These are a few of this favorite things! After he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last August, his whole world changed. Having a WISH to dream about seemed “out of this world” to Jay. But it didn’t take long for him to come up with his perfect wish…visiting NYC to see Hamilton and eating dinner at a Michelin rated restaurant. Included with dinner will be a special time set aside with the chef as well as a personal tour of the fantastic kitchen. Detailed plans for his trip are already underway and we cannot wait for him to see all of the surprises that await him!

At 14 years old, Jay has many interests aside from food & history. These include his taste for Milky Way bars and steak. He enjoys watching Master Chef to gain a few pointers. Jay is an avid Michigan State fan and his favorite super hero is The Flash. In his spare time Jay also enjoys karate, cooking, playing video games and working on his computer.

Jay and his family are looking forward to this once in a lifetime wish trip to New York. Just having something to dream about and focus on during his toughest days at the hospital was such a relief to his mother. Jay is counting down the days until he is wheels up – New York bound!

The Rainbow Connection Grants Wishes for Kids Facing Illness – Oakland County Times

(Ashley Adamek, March 27, 2019)

Check out our “Get Involved Guide” for more stories about local organizations. Thank you to Bosco Lounge for sponsoring this series.

Rochester, MI – Every child dreams of what he or she will be when they grow up, but how many of those children actually get to experience the magic of a dream come true?  Aidyn was diagnosed with Leukemia at only 3 years old.  Throughout all of the tests, hospital gowns, and medication, Aidyn dreamed of being a police officer.

Read more here!

Antonino’s Wyoming Wish

Wish Child Antonino wanted to check out some “real snow” for his wish!

The Rainbow Connection sent him on his once in a lifetime wish trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he and his family experienced some of the BEST skiing in the country! The city of Jackson Hole went out of their way to treat he and his family to a special dinner, provide passes to exclusive outdoor events and wonderful accommodations that were fit for a king!