GIBRALTAR-Seventeen is a very special age. It’s an age of discovery and anticipation, with all the possibilities of adulthood right around the corner. And young Cara also has a lot to wonder about, although her concerns are much more serious than most kids her age. She has to wonder about her health and the best way to take care of herself; she underwent a kidney transplant two years ago when she was diagnosed with reflux nephropathy, a kidney disorder that caused her end stage renal failure. Although she is doing better, she still must take seven different medications, get regular lab work done, and live with the knowledge that her body still might reject her new kidney. But despite all of the obstacles in her life, her mother Angela said Cara is quite upbeat. “She’s very sweet and loving, always thinking of others,” Angela said. “She’s already looking forward to going off to college.”
It was by coincidence that professional fundraisers from Kids Wish Network, a charity that grants wishes for children with life threatening illnesses, contacted Cara’s father about a donation; instead he submitted his daughter’s name, and soon, Wish Coordinator Madeline Robinson was composing a plan to get Cara to meet her favorite Christian boy band, Plus One. Not only did Madeline arrange for the teen to meet the singing sensations when they appeared in Grand Rapids, but she also lined up a limousine ride to and from the concert, and persuaded Grand Rapids City Commissioner Jim Jendrasiak to accompany Cara to the meet and greet to make sure things went smoothly. “If I have the chance to be a part of something that brings happiness to someone’s life, I’m honored to do it,” said Commissioner Jendrasiak, who also presented Cara with a cap and a shirt from the city of Grand Rapids. “Cara is so bright and optimistic despite her hardships. I was so glad for her that her dream came true.”
“Cara felt like a big shot when we pulled up to the concert in the limo because all the people thought she was someone important when they saw her get the special passes,” Angela said. Plus One’s road manager then let Cara pick out some special souvenirs before escorting her to a private room to wait for the band. “She was so nervous,” Angela said. But the young men helped put her at ease by just being themselves, acting silly, playing the piano and talking to her. “She talked to them the whole time, asked a lot of questions, and then they took photos together,” said Angela of the 25-minute meeting. “I was constantly talking so they wouldn’t leave,” Cara said. The guys thanked Cara for being so easy to talk to and presented her with a special journal in which each member had placed a picture and had written a note to her. “All the other girls were peeking in the window and getting jealous,” Angela said. And staying true to her kind nature, Cara still doesn’t have a favorite member; she likes them all the same. “She just doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” her mother said.
After saying goodbye to them, it was off to the concert hall to watch her new friends perform. Cara said she still gets the jitters when she thinks about her wish. “It was one day I could re-live forever,” she said. “It was the perfect day.” Her mother feels the same way about the whole experience. “These last few years have been devastating to Cara and at times in the hospital, she was so upset and down,” Angela said. “But she always listened to Plus One on her headphones and it helped keep her inspired and positive.” She said it meant a great deal to Cara to meet the band that provided her with so much happiness. “Madeline went to a lot of trouble to make it even more special for her,” she said. “We all want to thank Kids Wish Network for everything.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank all the gracious sponsors who made Cara’s wish come true: Commissioner Jim Jendrasiak, Dadd’s Magic Bus, the Courtyard by Marriott, and of course, Plus One for taking the time to make a young girl smile.
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.