If anyone deserved to experience the impact of a wish, it’s Alana. She has struggled with her health since birth. In fact, her whole family has helped shoulder the burden of Alana’s many health problems. She has a long list of serious illnesses but still manages to find a smile and a hug for everyone she meets.
Alana’s daily routine is more challenging than most. Her food is carefully managed. She often needs oxygen, has weekly bleach baths to treat her skin and has spent months in the hospital recovering from more than 22 surgeries. She will likely need a kidney transplant in the near future. Children like Alana—whose treatments can seem to take over life—need a wish the most.
Alana was 17 when wish granters asked what her one true wish might be. She wanted to do something special for her family—something they could all enjoy because they had all been on this journey with her. She wished to go on a cruise—but not just any cruise. She wanted the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas cruise; a ship that boasts seven neighborhoods, an amphitheater and the largest kids’ area at sea.
What a week of adventure she had! Alana’s family can’t usually take vacations. Most of their time away from work or school is spent taking care of Alana. Talking about this week, Alana’s mom said, “The peace was a gift. We had no stress over anything.” It was an experience they never believed they would have together.
Looking back, Alana would tell you that she and her family enjoyed swimming with dolphins, private surf lessons, snorkeling and no waiting in line for water slides. But all of this was secondary to how Alana was treated on the ship. Alana has been treated differently since birth, but for the first time, being different was positive. Being special made her happy. Alana sought out attention from people on the ship and they freely gave it to her—calling her out on their daily morning show, and making her feel like the belle of the ball at the New Year’s Eve party. Everyone wanted to know Alana—she was a celebrity.
Like every mom, Heather wants Alana to be happy and feel special. Alana’s wish made that possible. After Alana’s wish Heather was reminded of the generosity of the human spirit and its impact upon her family; “We realize that there are people who come together to give and make someone feel special. It was a dream come true.”
Wishes like Alana’s are much more than just a vacation. This was her chance to be free of illnesses, even if just for a week. She had no doctors to visit. No surgery to prepare for or recover from. She could just be herself—and she WAS! But it hasn’t ended. Today, Alana has thousands of pictures to help capture the memories that will forever live on in them. She takes them out and is transported back to the moments when different was wonderful. Her illnesses and challenges will never go away.