SOUTH LEBANON — Tara Paniogue made a wish and a nationally known organization helped make it come true.
The 18-year-old South Lebanon resident is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the body’s immune system.
Paniogue was diagnosed with the disease last October after her doctor noticed an enlarged lymph node on her neck.
During one of her early treatments, a nurse approached Tara and her mother and mentioned that Tara would qualify to have a wish granted by Kids Wish Network, a nonprofit organization.
After filling out an application, Paniogue wished for a trip to New York City.
“It was somewhere I had always wanted to go, so I thought it would be fun,” she said.
Fun it was, with Paniogue and her sister, father and mother spending July 14 to July 19 in The Big Apple.
A wish coordinator worked to plan the trip, booking round-trip flights, hotel accommodations, various tours, front row tickets to Broadway show “Mamma Mia!”, a dinner cruise, dinner at The Central Park Boat House and a surprise gondola ride around Central Park Lake.
“We were really happy with everything we got to see,” Paniogue said. “My whole family, we already want to go back and see New York again.”
Local businesses and organizations making donations to help fulfill her wish included the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Laborers International Union 265, American Legion Post 256, 138 and 513, Oeder & Sons Garage, Lebanon Optimist Club, VFW Post 8202, Lebanon Area Business & Professional Women’s Association, VFW Auxiliary Post 9622 and Vora Technology Park.
“It was special to me that they would do that,” she said.
Paniogue said she also is grateful to Kids Wish Network itself and hopes people will donate to the organization to help other wishes come true.
Her mother, Tami, said she was “totally blown away” by the experience and the support Kids Wish Network receives from its sponsors.
“It’s just amazing how generous and kind people are,” she said.
Elizabeth Perez, a wish referral specialist, said Kids Wish Network gives children a moment of joy when they need it the most.
“It is so important for our wish kids to have a break from the daily struggles they deal with,” Perez said. “Their wish experience is a memory that they can focus on when they are battling their illnesses.”
The Western Star