The day Ariana’s parents, Nancy and Andris, learned she had a neuromuscular disorder they said they cried all the way home from the hospital. Nancy had met another mother whose son had the condition, but never imagined her own healthy daughter would suffer from it too.
But at 18 months Ariana struggled to walk and couldn’t yet run. Four months of testing, specialists and blood work finally delivered the devastating news that left them in tears. Though Ariana could walk, in fifth grade her strength started declining dramatically. By the time she was 12 she relied on a power wheelchair full time.
Though the wheelchair was freeing in ways, she says the next few years “were really hard on me mentally.” One of her outlets for dealing with these struggles was art. Though she has tried different mediums, her wish was to go on an art exploration road trip, where she would be exposed to artistic methods and forms she hadn’t tried yet. One of these was glass blowing, or as she describes it, mind-blowing. In all, Ariana made four stops on her road trip—from the Potter’s Studio in Berkeley for pottery making to the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art for printmaking (“pretty addicting”).
Along the way, there were other special moments when her family could simply enjoy being together away from their day-to-day challenges. As Ariana told us, “There are a lot of special moments and fun highlights that I recall from the art activities we did, but the time I spent just with my family was equally special.”
A wish gives a child renewed energy and strength, brings families closer together and unites communities. Ariana tells us that she is now even more inspired to keep creating art and is heading to CSU Sacramento this fall. She plans to major in child development and hopes to be an elementary school teacher one day—maybe passing along her love for art to another generation!