Christina, a 15-year-old girl from Michigan, had always wanted to go parasailing since she was a little girl. National charity Kids Wish Network recently made her dream come true by sending her to Catalina Island where she parasailed with her family.
In March of 2008, Christina and her parents noticed that her smile appeared to be crooked. Upon visiting her doctor, Christina was immediately sent to the hospital for an MRI, and a golf ball-sized tumor was found between her brain and brain stem. She had surgery a few days later, which removed most of the tumor that had adhered to Christina’s Auditory Nerve. This resulted in hearing loss in her left ear, balance issues and permanent left side paralysis. Although the majority of the tumor was removed, there remains a strong likelihood that it will grow back; Christina receives an MRI every three months to ensure that no new growth has occurred.
Christina and her mother, Diane, were sitting at home just two days after her release from the hospital, when a professional fundraiser called from Kids Wish Network. When the fundraiser asked Diane if she knew of any children who were living with life threatening illnesses, she told Christina’s story.
“I think it was really divine intervention,” Diane said.
Kids Wish Network Wish Coordinator Jill contacted the family and got to work to find out what Christina’s number one wish would be. Christina decided that she wanted to go parasailing over the Pacific Ocean.
“I was trying to think of things I wouldn’t get the chance to do. Parasailing looked really fun and I always wanted to try it. I also wanted to see the Pacific Ocean,” Christina said.
With the help of wish funding specialist Megan, Jill worked to arrange the entire trip for Christina and her parents. A round-trip flight, limo ride, hotel stays, dinners, a ride on a high-speed catamaran, an eco-tour across Catalina Island, a Flying Fish boat ride, spa treatment and even a boogie boarding excursion were also included in Christina’s wish.
“It was so beyond our expectations. Everyone took such great care of us,” Diane said.
Christina said that her favorite part of the whole trip was the parasailing experience.
“It was so amazing. I felt like I was floating and I could see forever,” she said.
Diane said she was a little nervous about parasailing, but she got over it after a few minutes. For her, the best part was the Jeep Eco Tour that the family went on.
“It was so personal and not a lot of people could do it. The guide was an amazing man and had so much knowledge to share. We spent four hours on the tour and were 10 feet from a real live buffalo. We saw an endangered Island Fox, a Bald Eagle, a Golden Eagle and so much more. It was beautiful,” she said.
All-in-all, the family said that they had a wonderful time.
“Everything was absolutely perfect,” Diane said. “We had the most amazing time and we are so grateful for the experience.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Christina’s wish extra special: Catalina Island Conservancy, Flying Fish Boat Trip, Descanso Beach Club, Deanna Stone Bodyworks, Avalon Massage-Lavina Jones, Parasailing Catalina, Catalina-Marina Del Rey Flyer, Catalina Island Inn, Rits-Carlton Marina Del Rey, Steve’s Steakhouse, Landry’s Limousine, Armstrong’s Seafood Restaurant, Cheesecake Factory, Catalina Transportation Services Inc., Belle River Community Credit Union, Fraternal Order of Eagles #3702, Richmond Kiwanis Club, Richmond Moose Lodge #2575, New Image Dental, St. Augustine Church.
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