In honor of our 35th Anniversary in 2019, we will be focusing on some of the more than 8,600 wishes we have granted in our history. Here is an update on a wish we granted back in 2004.
Only a few thousand people in the world suffer from the rare genetic condition with which Isabel was born, mucopolysaccharidosis type VI, or MPS VI. A few years after her birth, Isabel’s parents moved their family from Guatemala to the U.S., leaving everything behind to pursue treatment. Isabel was initially given a life expectancy of seven years, but at age eight she received her one true wish: to meet Cinderella at Disney World. Fifteen years later, she still remembers the trip like it was yesterday.
“It was really more than just a wish,” says Isabel. “For me it was like a tiny treasure that you’re going to remember for the rest of your life.”
When children are battling a critical illness, a normal childhood is taken away from them. A wish gives kids the opportunity to look outside their illness and restores a sense of normalcy back to the family. This was the case for Isabel, who says that during her wish she wasn’t thinking about medical appointments for once, and was able to disconnect from daily routines.
For Isabel, meeting her favorite princess and eating ice cream late-night at the resort were not just activities on a wish itinerary, but lasting memories that have helped her through numerous medical challenges, including at age 13, when complications of her illness left her paralyzed below the waist.
Doctors told Isabel not to expect to live past 20, but she’s now 23. In fact, she’s been told seven different times throughout her life that she wasn’t going to make it, but each time she’s overcome the challenges with a smile. From riding in a hot air balloon to meeting the cast of her favorite TV show, Isabel has never let adversity slow her down. She loves to dance and even teaches children in the hospital with different disabilities how to dance. Last year she graduated from Cal State East Bay with honors.
Since her wish, Isabel has also been a strong supporter of Make-A-Wish. She’s spoken at a Make-A-Wish gala, served on a committee, and even started her own campaign to raise funds. Her rationale for wanting to help other kids receive their wish is simple and powerful: “If you can give someone a wish that they’re going to remember for the rest of their life, and treasure it like I treasure mine, then why not?”