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Why Are We Participating?

Every year nearly 1,200 families will learn that their child has been diagnosed with a life- threatening medical condition in the state of Illinois. This year, Make-A-Wish Illinois plans to grant more than 700 wishes in Illinois, with a long-term goal of reaching all eligible children. Support of Walk & Run for Wishes will help grant many wishes. Wishes for children like Cara, Ashanti and Brody...

Cara, 3, from Edwardsville is an outgoing little girl full of energy and always on the go to keep up with her two older brothers. While Cara would like to spend all of her time talking about, dreaming of and playing princesses, she also has to battle leukemia. Since her diagnosis, Cara and her family make frequent visits to the hospital, enduring long hours of treatment and countless doctor appointments.

Cara wished to go meet her favorite princesses at a Florida theme park. To make her wish come true, Make-A-Wish sent Cara and her family to Florida. For seven days they enjoyed many of the area parks and even had the opportunity to take a day trip to the beach, where Cara and her brothers “gasped” when seeing the ocean for the very first time.

“The five of us had never gone on a vacation for seven days before,” says Cara’s mom. “It was absolutely amazing to have no worries and get to embrace the moment. If the kids wanted Disney ice cream at 10am in the morning, ‘Why not?’ could be the answer.”

Cara’s favorite part of the wish experiences was getting to talk to and take pictures with the princesses. “It was a big hit,” recalls Cara’s mom. “She’s now gone completely crazy for princesses.”

“I had tears in my eyes. All of us were so happy. It was just a week of awesome.”

Ashanti lives with her mom and brother in Chicago. She can make anyone smile, and the word “shy” is not in her vocabulary.

In June 2011, Ashanti was diagnosed with streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, a disease caused by bacterial toxin. Her diagnosis caused her to be intubated and suffer cardiac arrest, and resulted in bilateral arm and leg amputations. Despite it all, she remains as sweet and loveable as ever!

When asked her most heartfelt wish, Ashanti wished to go to Florida and swim with the dolphins like Ariel. Ashanti’s mom wrote of the wish: “Ashanti says her dream came true! She is so grateful for her wish and she realizes that she can still enjoy life through her disability. I think this wish brought my child a sense of happiness in life that she will always strive to have. I think Make-A-Wish is magical! I love what this Foundation has done for so many families, including mine.”

Brody is a four-year-old who lives with his parents, older brother and two dogs in Urbana. He is described as a “really fun little guy” by those who are close to him.

At birth, Brody was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. He has already been through three heart surgeries and is regularly monitored for his health. Although he faces many medical challenges, Brody has been courageous throughout and his family remains hopeful.

When asked to wish BIG, Brody knew he wanted the chance to meet his favorite movie characters in a Florida theme park. While in Florida, Brody and his family enjoyed ALL of the theme parks. Brody loved swimming and eating as much cotton candy as he could. The family also took a side trip to the Kennedy Space Center where Brody got to see old space shuttles, in addition to going to the beach where he saw the ocean for the first time. Since being home from Orlando, Brody has not stopped talking about their trip and cannot wait to go back to Florida one day.

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Special Thanks to:
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