Seven-year-old Keira’s love of leprechauns began when she was just three years old and received a leprechaun book from her grandmother. She soon became enamored and frequently asked her parents when they could go to Ireland to see the leprechauns. “Someday,” they’d say. Then, in December 2016, Keira was diagnosed with leukemia. Suddenly Ireland was off the table: Keira was required to stay within a 30-mile radius of the hospital. “Our world closed in around us,” says her mom, Courtney.
A year into treatment, as Keira endured chemotherapy and its side effects, her parents submitted a referral to Make-A-Wish. When Keira learned that volunteers would be coming over to hear about her wish, she knew exactly what she’d be requesting. Preparing for the interview brought Keira joy. She made a cardboard “leprechaun palace,” re-read her Ireland travel book, and decorated her home in green and gold. “The hope and joy that Make-A-Wish brings to families is so tangible in our household right now,” shared Courtney.
Planning for the wish was transformative for Keira’s family, but also for her medical team, who used the upcoming adventure to bolster Keira’s spirits during difficult procedures. Keira and her team discussed leprechaun habitats while preparing for lumbar punctures. A nurse shared photos from her own vacation to Ireland. And at one memorable visit, her doctor announced, “Keira, last week I received a request for medical approval for you to search for leprechauns. You look great at your exam today. I most certainly can approve that request.”
Filled with uniquely Irish experiences like sightseeing at Malehide Castle, touring the Titanic Museum and enjoying local music in a pub, “the trip gave us a chance to reconnect as a family, and actually *almost* forget about cancer and hospitals for a while,” says Courtney. “Keira still had oral chemo to take at certain times each day but other than that, we felt like a normal family on holiday.”
One highlight was far from typical: Keira and her brother Kolby got to meet a “leprechaun whisperer,” who showed them a leprechaun cavern and even designated Keira as a “leprechaun whisperer” – the first in the Bay Area! Upon returning home, she couldn’t wait to share the new title with everyone at school. With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, Keira recalls the magic of her wish daily. This year she’s going all out with her décor, because she knows the leprechauns will surely be visiting.
Wishes give kids like Keira renewed energy and strength and bring families closer together. Make-A-Wish seeks to bring every eligible child’s wish to life, but right now we’re only reaching about half of all eligible children. We need your help to make sure every child diagnosed with a critical illness gets to experience a wish. Please visit sf.wish.org/ways-to-help to learn how you can get involved and make an immediate impact on the lives of children with critical illnesses, either by submitting a referral, volunteering or donating.