This organization I’m referring to is Make-A-Wish, or MAW for those that love acronyms and live in the world of emoji’s, texting, and Facebook!
Before this world of cancer became my new normal, I had heard of MAW but never really knew enough about it, similar to so many other things I’ve first learned over the past year. MAW in my uneducated mind was there to support children who were terminally ill, and whose beautiful souls were the blessed recipient of one last wish before receiving their coveted wings. But, as good folklore goes, this myth simply isn’t true. You see, cancer tries its best to beat you up and spit you out with nothing left, but with the power of prayer coupled with the love of so many others like the MAW Foundation, we find ourselves in a situation where the journey we are on can have a much better and happier ending. An ending that prolongs the life a child beyond a prescribed number that is “typical” for children diagnosed. When there is a purpose, a reason to keep living, odds of survivorship grow dramatically. It’s not a secret that a life lived with meaning, a life that has a reason to keep going, will do whatever it can to get to that finish line, whatever that finish line represents in your world. In my case, the finish line was simply having my daughter living a happy, healthy prolonged life with so many more memories in store and to share with her own children and grandchildren.
My life to this point had been pretty simple and uneventful with very few ups and downs for the most part, and I’ve prescribed to the humble theory that if you treat people the right way, then good things will happen in return. The Law of Karma I guess is a better way to describe it. Now I don’t know exactly what good karma I’ve set out there in the past forty-plus years of existence, but what I do know is that I’ve been exposed to and have been the recipient of some really great emotionally uplifting indescribable feelings in the recent past, and I can only believe it’s because of one thing... the world we live in is full of some really awesome people. People that if you’re willing to look for are lurking in the masses just waiting for an opportunity to act. This is in total contrast to the negativity most media outlets thrust upon us by the hour and then perpetuate with the ensuing gossip that follows. But, I promise if you choose to ignore it and look for greatness, it’s out there. My family and I are a prime example and beneficiary.
You see, back in January 2015, that above mentioned, sweet innocent child was my daughter, Kaila. At just eleven-years-old, Kaila was blindsided and then shoved into a world that many her age simply don’t understand or simply shouldn’t be exposed to. This nasty world of cancer is sick, cruel and ferocious, and if you ask me, serves no purpose other than to test the will and strength of our every living cell, literally and figuratively. Without the care of so many incredible doctors, nurses, family, friends, complete strangers, and cancer organizations, it would nearly impossible to overcome. Without their unyielding support and their unwavering love, there is no way I would be where I am now. A place where my mind is free from the shackles of sleepless nights and unprovoked, selfishly sad tears streaming down my face. All tears I shed now are for the most part happy tears, the tears where you don’t mind crying because it’s about seeing the good that I may have just witnessed.
These same tears of joy were a huge part of the night I met Caroline and Heather at Circus Couture. (Circus Couture is a remarkable fundraising event for The Children’s Specialty Center of Nevada, an incredible clinic located here Las Vegas and another massive reason Kaila is where she is now.) That life changing evening is where my MAW journey began. The initial impact their fun-loving personalities had on Kaila and how they instantly treated her like the angel she is was a breathtaking experience for me. That night in itself was spectacular, but the icing on the cake was when I heard these two wonderful ladies were volunteering to be Kaila’s Wish Granters. A job that has everlasting impact. A job that requires many selfless acts of kindness and personal sacrifice. At last, Kaila was going to get her wish! A wish that would be the just reward for her heroic 12-month journey comprised of countless chemo treatments, blood transfusions, radiation therapy, weeks of hospital stays, surgeries, scans, shots, pills, puking, and of course the loss of all of her beautifully long hair.
Little did I know how cool the MAW voyage was going to be because as I mentioned before, I truly was uneducated about MAW. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I really just wasn’t sure how this “thing” worked. Luckily though, I was blessed to have Wish Granters that took the reins and pulled me along. I was a spectator and participant all at the same time. I watched it all unfold with a few scheduled meetings here and there at our home to help Kaila dwindle down her endless list of wishes to the “Final Three”. This is where the magic starts to really happen, and the pressure of Caroline and Heather and their epic staff members begins to mount. How do they choose at this point? How do they make it all happen? What is the secret formula? I have no idea, but what I do know is Kaila will soon be granted something so special and so life changing! How exciting, right?
Fast forward a little bit to that epic moment in March where all of Kaila’s sixth-grade friends, classmates, teachers and school officials trek into the gymnasium for an impromptu class assembly. But, this assembly would be like no other the kids are used to attending. This assembly started with the Star Wars theme music blasting through the speakers and in the distant, two Storm Troopers draped on either side of Darth Vader marching toward them. How cool is that? What in the world are they doing here? In anticipation of what is to come next, all the chattering student voices made it nearly impossible to hear Darth summoning Kaila to please step forward. Kaila sheepishly obliges and is asked to watch the large screen in front of her and her classmates. The projector rolls and on the big screen displays the very familiar, very friendly, and always smiling face of one Kaila’s favorite YouTube artist, Baylee Jae! Baylee Jae informs Kaila that the two of them will be hooking up for an awesome meet-and-greet experience in Vancouver, Canada. No longer will Baylee Jae be just a face on the computer screen, but live in the flesh where they can sit down and just talk and draw and hang out. Kaila, of course, after seeing this great video is in utter shock and awe and with everyone watching, including me, are shedding some of those “happy” tears! The kind that make you shiver in delight and appreciate all the good this world of ours has to offer. Now the waiting game begins. It feels like Christmas and we all can’t wait for it to get here. It can’t get here fast enough. Kaila’s life has another purpose and this is just another great milestone for her along the way.
Moving on the to the present day, three months later, here I am sitting around a table on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery watching my precious angel chat it up with the lovable Baylee Jae, a YouTube sensation that was just as much a part of Kaila’s journey as I. Baylee Jae just didn’t realize the impact her art, videos and wonderful personality were having on this now twelve-year-old Warrior Princess that we all have come to love so much. And, now because of the selfless acts of some great people at MAW, it was all made possible. In the immortal words of the late great Walt Disney…Dreams do come true!
From my heart to yours, I simply say thank you to everyone involved in this long and crazy journey. Without my wonderful wife, without my children, without my family, friends and the greatness of so many other generous and noble people and organizations like Make-A-Wish, I wouldn’t be here sending out this message of deep appreciation for making Kaila’s one true wish come to life. The world is a better place with you in it.