Six-year-old Maya was diagnosed with leukemia the day after her fifth birthday. She has spent nearly 130 days in the hospital, being treated for infections, going through surgery and having physical therapy. Maya has kept her sunny disposition through it all, and loves to sing—“she does it without thinking,” say her parents, Valerie and Tim. She wished to be a princess on a stage, singing a song in front of an audience, and on Saturday, July 30th, that wish came true.
In preparation for her performance, Maya worked with vocal coach Melanie DeMore to fine-tune her rendition of Christina Perri’s "A Thousand Years." She even recorded the song in studio with a live band. Titled Maya and the Breathing Treatments, the musical ensemble included Maya’s dad, Tim, on guitar.
In June, hundreds of people RSVP’d to a social media request to join the audience and cheer on Maya, making her feel like a star. As she rehearsed tirelessly, Jennifer Loel Designs created a beautiful yellow princess dress for her to wear, and 17 volunteers from Deloitte visited the Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area offices, where they built and painted a yellow castle backdrop for the stage.
Before the wish, Maya’s parents, Valerie and Tim, said, “Her wish has really given all of us something to look forward to, after such a long hard year. It is our light at the end of the tunnel. When she is sad, we talk about what songs she wants to sing, or what color dress she wants to wear, how many people will be there. It really gets us talking and thinking about something else when the moment gets tough.”
On Saturday, July 30th, more than 200 volunteers gathered at The Swedish American Hall in San Francisco to watch Maya sing. Some may find this scenario terrifying, by Maya loved the crowd and was ready to perform. Upon arriving at the venue, she immediately proclaimed, “Let’s get this show on the road!”
After sound check, the star of the show was whisked away for lunch and a costume change, while audience members designed posters to show their support. Well before the show began, the floor seats were filled and the large audience spilled into the venue’s balcony. At 2pm, Valerie took the stage to introduce her daughter before the big number, calling Maya, “an amazing little girl and courageous survivor,” and sharing touching photos from Maya’s difficult journey over the past 16 months.
Next, Maya entered the room, decked out in sparkly yellow dress and smiling from ear to ear: a true princess. Despite the roaring crowd, she didn’t show even a hint of stage fright. Maya delivered a stunning performance, commanding the stage and moving much of the audience to tears.
After receiving a standing ovation, Maya made her way to the back of the room, where she graciously greeted a massive line of adoring fans, receiving flowers and signing autographs before departing in her limo, just like the rock star she is.