PASSCHRISTIAN-Frilly little dresses and Barney are the things that make young Tanae happy. This sweet and shy six-year-old also likes Britney Spears, Barbie, and eating at Chuck E. Cheese. On the surface she seems quite similar to many little girls, but deep down, Tanae is different. She has had three recurrent brain tumors that have required chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment has caused some paralysis, weakened her left side, affected her speech and caused a loss of hearing. “The radiation slows her down a little,” said her mother, Julie. “We’ve been very lucky to have her in remission for almost 2 years now.”
When Wish Coordinator TJ Whitlock of Kids Wish Network heard about this special little girl, she jumped into action to make sure Tanae’s wish of a 1st class shopping spree turned into a dream come true. “She just loves to shop!” said Julie. To start the day off in style, TJ surprised Tanae and had a stretch limousine pull up in front of her house to whisk her away to her own personal sale of the century. “The chauffeur even had her favorite drink, a teddy bear and gave her some spending money for her day at the mall,” Julie said. “It was wonderful.”
Once she arrived at the Edgewater Mall, Tanae was greeted by Lori Holt, the mall manager and was taken around from store to store to collect all the gifts and presents that TJ and Lori had set up for her. But before her journey began, the mall Hospitality Queen, who with her flowing gown and long blonde hair, reminded Tanae of a Barbie queen, greeted Tanae with gifts. Tanae was then crowned Mall Princess for the day, given a crown and a wand, and announced over the mall’s PA system. “I asked her if she wanted dresses or toys more, and at first she said dresses,” Julie said. “She changed her mind really quick when we started shopping and she saw all the toys.”
Then it was off to all the stores like JC Penney for a new dress and shoes, MyOhMy Gift Shop for a new doll, and Hot Topics for a Sponge Bob doll. Tanae was pampered even more at Bath and Body Works where not only did the employees themselves help to raise the money for part of her gift certificate, but they also had a gift for her mother. “They had certificates for both of us, they were so nice,” said Julie. “Tanae loves all the glitter and lotion she got from there.” Many of the stores that hadn’t even planned on giving to Tanae went out of their way for her and her mother was overwhelmed by their generosity.
Besides all of the shopping, Tanae also had a chance to take a picture with Santa and to ride the train and the carousel. “They gave her a card that allows her ride the carousel every time she comes back to the mall,” Julie said. “We’re going to have to go back because she got too tired to finish using all her certificates and mall dollars. The whole limo was so full we could hardly see the driver. She hasn’t even finished opening all her things yet.”
“She enjoyed absolutely everything,” Julie said. “She already wore her new dress to school to show her friends.” Now no matter what this special little girl has to face in the future, she can look back on a time when everything was perfect and she was princess for a day.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank all of the gracious sponsors that made Tanae’s dream come true: Nick Cvitanovich Limousine, Lori Holt of Edgewater Mall Management, Chuck E. Cheese, Bath and Body Works, JC Penney, Dillards, Sears, McRaes, M&L Gifts, Bloomers Florist, Hot Topics, MyOhMy Gifts Shop, Moo Town, Broom Studios, Gulf Coast Cards and Gift Shop, Afterthoughts, and all the generous merchants of the Edgewater Mall who made Tanae’s dream come true.
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.