ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A little girl battling a life-threatening illness meets her favorite pop star with a little help from Kids Wish Network.
When a Kids Wish Network professional fundraiser called LaKesha’s aunt Becky, she was asked if she knew of any kids who might benefit from having a wish granted. In a split second, Becky told the caller about her special little niece, LaKesha, who more than deserved something special for all that she had gone through in her four short years.
You see, LaKesha was born with sickle cell disease, a disorder in which the red blood cells have a difficult time passing through the blood vessels to reach the body’s tissues. Those suffering with this disease experience severe episodes of pain and eventual organ damage; they are also at high risk for stroke and cardiac arrest. LaKesha experiences extremely serious pain episodes and is on pain medications. She has battled with pneumonia four times and has also dealt with the stress of multiple blood transfusions, ultrasounds and has been in and out of the hospital most of her young life.
When Wish Coordinator, Jill, asked the bright little four-year-old what she wanted most in the world, LaKesha asked only to meet her favorite pop singer, Keyshia Cole. With that in mind, Jill set to work with her “guardian angel magic” and organized the trip of a lifetime for the little girl, rides in a limousine and a boat, a trip to the zoo and, of course, a meet-and-greet with Keyshia Cole at her concert! With the help of Wish Funding Specialist, Megan, and some terrific sponsors, all of the little girl’s wishes were coming true.
“Jill did a great job,” said LaKesha’s mom, Michelle. “We really had a great time.”
When LaKesha and her family arrived in St. Louis, they were greeted at the Hampton Inn and Suites St. Louis in style! The hotel staff treated LaKesha, her mom and her sister like they were royalty and even gave the little girls gifts! That night, the family was treated to a nice boat ride and dinner at the Boathouse Forest Park.
The next day, while anxiously awaiting the concert that evening, LaKesha and her family enjoyed a visit to the St. Louis Zoo. There, LaKesha and her twin sister, Jaresha, had a blast getting their faces painted, watching the animal shows and riding the train. Though they had an awesome time, nothing could top the excitement coming to them later in the evening.
Before the concert, a limousine arrived at the hotel to take LaKesha and her family to the Keyshia Cole concert. “They [the girls] just loved the limo ride…they’re still talking about it,” said Michelle.
During the concert, LaKesha was bopping and singing along with every song. At one point, while singing, LaKesha realized just how loud the music was. “Mommy,” she said as she turned to Michelle, “she can’t hear me singing with her!” “Oh she can hear you, honey,” replied Michelle, smiling. “Just keep singing!”
When everything was over and LaKesha was geared up from the energy of the concert, she was escorted backstage to meet her idol.
Despite her gabby nature, LaKesha did not know what to say initially when Keyshia Cole walked right up to her. “She’s an outspoken little girl,” said Michelle of LaKesha. “But when she met Keyshia Cole, she was so overwhelmed she didn’t talk!”
Keyshia presented the abnormally quiet LaKesha with a special Build-A-Bear and even signed photographs for the little girl. “She was so sweet,” said Michelle of the famous singer.
Though she didn’t speak at first, LaKesha warmed up after a few minutes with Keyshia and they talked about their sisters and other similarities. At the end of the meeting, LaKesha told the pop star, “I love you.” Keyshia was touched and told her that she loved her too, and gave the little girl a wonderful piece of advice: “You always hold your head up, honey.”
“It was so beautiful,” said Michelle of her little girl’s meeting with her hero. “I was in tears.”
Now that LaKesha and her family are back home, she’s still excited. “The girls are still talking about it,” said Michelle. With memories to last a lifetime, LaKesha is already planning more, organizing an imaginary itinerary for the next time she meets up with her favorite singer. It was really a wish-come-true for little LaKesha, thanks to Keyshia Cole and everyone over at Kids Wish Network.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make LaKesha’s wish extra special: Keyshia Cole, Tre Media, American Marine, Laclede Community Credit Union, Hampton Inn & Suites St. Louis at Forest Park, Saint Louis Zoo, Imo’s Pizza, Best Transportation of St. Louis and the Boathouse Forest Park.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org