ALEXANDRIA-At age 15, most girls dream about becoming a star. They imagine being discovered by a producer or heading off to New York or Los Angeles to make it on the big screen. But for Kimberly, her dreams of stardom are overshadowed by her harsh reality: she suffers from sickle cell anemia. Because of this disease, she has had over 10 cases of pneumonia, had her spleen and gall bladder removed, and suffered through numerous blood transfusions. But Kimberly fights the pain and refuses to let it stop her. “She is on the honor roll, the Student Council, and has even been in dance companies,” said her mother, Cora.
So when Wish Coordinator Madeline Robinson was contacted about this special girl, she took on the role of a talent agent in order to make Kimberly’s only wish of being on television come true. Madeline contacted the owner of the ‘The Parkers’, Kimberly’s favorite sitcom, and soon she and her mother were on a plane headed to L.A. for a guest role on the hit show. “When we landed there was a limousine waiting and the driver had a sign with Kimberly’s name and picture on it,” said Cora. “She was so excited.”
After the next day was spent sight seeing at Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and topped off with a special dinner at the Hard Rock Café, Kimberly went back to her hotel to rest up for her 9 a.m. casting call with ‘The Parkers’. “When we arrived at the studio, we were nervous because we didn’t know what to expect,” Cora said. “But everyone was so wonderful and nice that they took the nervousness away.” Upon her arrival, Kimberly was sized up to determine her part in the show and then she was whisked away to wardrobe, make-up and hair. “They went above and beyond for her,” Cora said. “They continuously followed her around and fixed her lipstick and make-up. They made her feel like a star. She even had a dressing room with her name on it.”
The best moment of all came when they told Kimberly that they had written in a speaking role for her. “I was surprised, but she wasn’t nervous at all about saying her two lines,” Cora said. “They said she was a natural!” In between takes, all of the actors and actresses chatted and visited with Kimberly and made her feel at home. “They were just beautiful people, so wonderful to her,” said Cora. “The stars were so friendly, I don’t want to single one of them out because they were all great.” Before it was all over, Kimberly even got to meet basketball hero Magic Johnson, who had a cameo appearance on the episode.
“I was just so amazed at how nice everybody was,” Cora said. “They weren’t the stuffy, Hollywood people you hear about, they made her so comfortable. It was like they made the whole day around Kimberly.” The Parkers’ staff went so far as to put her in extra scenes and to make sure she was always near the main characters when they were taping. “It felt like everything was really from the heart,” Cora said. “I was almost in tears, it was so beautiful. The Parkers and Kids Wish Network did a wonderful thing for Kimberly.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank all of its gracious sponsors: American Airlines, First Class Limousine, Crowne Plaza, Universal Studios, Hard Rock Café Beverly Hills, Mulberry Street Pizza and the Screen Actors Guild. And of course, our heartfelt thanks go out to Sara Finney and the entire cast and crew of The Parkers for making Kimberly’s wish 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.