PEACH BOTTOM- Wish Coordinator Madeline Robinson of Kids Wish Network gave Brandy the good news: her wish to go to Fan Fair and meet her favorite country stars was going to happen. But then amidst all the good news came word that 15-year-old Brandy would have to undergo another surgery to replace the shunt in her brain. It would be the 4th such surgery in her young life; she suffers from spina bifida. In addition to the shunt operations, she has had numerous orthopedic surgeries, must use a catheter, and at times has to use a wheelchair. So when Madeline found out that Brandy was to be hospitalized again and might not make her wish trip to Nashville, she called in for some reinforcements.
Soon Brandy received phone calls from two of the music stars she hoped to meet in Nashville: Andy Griggs and The Wilkinsons. They both called to wish her good health and to tell her to heal fast because they expected to see her at Fan Fair. “ I think knowing she was going to Nashville was her medicine,” said her mom, Robin. “It gave her the inspiration to get back up and going.” And it worked because just two weeks after she was released, Brandy and her family were on a plane headed to the biggest event in country music.
Not only would she be in the heart of country music and get to meet 5 of her favorite singing stars, Brandy would also be in attendance at the TNN Country Music Awards and cheer on a star studded charity softball game. The first surprise of the trip happened only minutes after Brandy and her family settled into their hotel room. In walked one of her idols, singer Brad Paisley. “ I was in shock, I didn’t know what to say,” she said. But soon, the charming singer was coaxing Brandy into conversations ranging from car racing to breaking into showbiz, and even had her singing a duet with him to his hit song, “Who Needs Pictures.” To top off her first night at Fan Fair, Brad asked if Brandy would like to sit with him the next evening at the TNN Country Music Awards in the front row. She literally squealed with excitement and said, “I know I won’t sleep tonight.”
The next day started with meeting the star who had telephoned her: Andy Griggs. Brandy and her family were special guests at his Fan Club Party and the singer took time out the festivities to visit with Brandy. The two chatted for a while and Brandy told him her favorite song. Armed with this information, he opened his set by dedicating the song to her and incorporating her name in the lyrics. “Just 20 minutes of talking to you makes me glad to be alive,” he said to Brandy over the microphone. From there, her special day kept getting better as she headed to the Awards in a limo and took her seat next to Brad Paisley. “Everyone was so nice to me. The front row is pretty cool,” she said. Her mom Robin said Brad was a very special person for taking so much time with Brandy.
The next day started with Brandy in the front row of The Wilkinsons’ Fan Club Party where she listened to them sing more of her favorite songs; they even dedicated one to their special fan. After meeting the singing sensations, she had an all-star afternoon at the charity softball game. As if the day wasn’t exciting enough, she ended it at Brad Paisley’s Fan Club Party where she again spent time with the crooner. “He is really sweet and down to earth,” she said.
The last two days of Brandy’s trip were a whirlwind of excitement that began with a meet and greet with the band SheDAiSY. Once again Brandy was the fan of the hour with the sweet sounding band dedicating a song in her honor. That evening while dining out, she got yet another surprise when The Wilkinsons walked into the restaurant and took the table next to her family. They were very kind and spoke to Brandy throughout the meal. They had even remembered her sister Loran’s name from the day before. The next day ended with Brandy rubbing shoulders with Billy Ray Cyrus and posing for a photo with the famous singer.
Brandy’s mom said that after two days at home, they still haven’t recuperated from the fast paced trip. “She can’t stop talking about the whole thing,” she said. “She just keeps listening to her CD’s and reliving it.” According to Brandy’s stepfather, Sam, the best part of the whole trip was seeing her face light up. “For me, seeing Brandy get what she wanted was the best part of all.” Brandy said she had wanted to experience Fan Fair because “I’m the biggest country music fan in the whole world.” But with the way she worked the crowd, Brandy may have made a few fans of her own.
Kids Wish Network would like to graciously thank Brad Paisley, Andy Griggs, The Wilkinson’s, SHeDAiSY, and Billy Ray Cyrus for making Brandy’s dream a reality. We would also like to thank our wonderful sponsors: American Airlines, Avis Rental Car, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Gaylord Entertainment Group, The City of Hope, General Jackson Dinner Cruise, Cancun Cantina Mexican Restaurant, A Touch of Class Limousine, and the Philadelphia Airport Parking.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to grant wishes to children who have life-threatening illnesses. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of their wish granting services, please call (813)891-9374 or toll free at (888)918-9004. You can also visit its web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.