For her quinceañera, Paola didn’t just want to feel like a princess—she wanted to feel like a queen. And after everything she has been through in her young life, she absolutely deserved to.
Paola was a happy and active young girl who loved cheerleading and dancing until, at just 11 years old, and two weeks into her first year of middle school, she was diagnosed with leukemia.
When Paola learned she was eligible to be granted a wish, at first she was afraid of asking for too much. “No, I don’t think they will grant my wish because it’s too much money,” she said. Paola’s mother, Oliva, encouraged her to shoot for the stars—she knew that Paola crucially needed something good to look forward to.
Paola knew that she wanted to share her wish with her entire extended family, who were so supportive of her while she was going through her treatment. A trip wouldn’t be able to accommodate everyone, so her clear choice was to have a big party that the entire family could enjoy.
“Mami, I want a quinceañera!”
With this declaration, Paola’s imagination began to bloom. She planned the event down to the smallest detail—the beautiful venue, the dance routine, her hair and makeup, and—of course—her royal blue dress.
Oliva says that the wish planning process is incredibly transformative for children like Paola. “From the beginning, they begin to believe and build trust with people,” she says. “They begin to believe that there are good people, and there are people out there that care about them.”
Paola’s favorite part of the day was her waltz and the surprise dance orchestrated by a talented local choreographer. When the family was unable to track down enough male dancers, the choreographer brought in her own family members to help make the waltz happen. “They made her dream come true,” says Oliva. “She was very confident on stage and secure in herself.”
Today, Paola’s cancer is in remission, and she has returned to school and her beloved cheerleading practice. She has also taken the opportunity to dive into folkloric dance, inspired by the surprise performance from her wish day. She has even joined a group dedicated to that style of dance.
Oliva says that without Make-A-Wish, a celebration like Paola’s could never have existed. “It's very hard for parents like me. We would have not been able to give her a quinceañera because we just don't have the resources to do it.”
On top of being a whole lot of fun, Oliva says that the wish had a lasting impact on their whole family. “It gives us families a moment of happiness and joy. It gives us hope. It’s an experience that allows us to not think about being in the hospital and just live in the moment,” she says. As for Paola, she says, “she will always be thankful to Make-A-Wish because you all made her dream come true.”
Help make wishes like Paola’s come true. Even a small donation can help to give a child confidence and bring her family a moment of happiness and joy.