Recent Laguna Creek High School graduate and swimmer Lauren McCullough’s life has changed dramatically in the past year.
The teen was recently granted her aspiration to attend the 2012 Summer Olympics swimming trials via the Kids Wish Network, a charity that grants wishes to children and teens suffering from life-threatening illness; something Lauren has been quite familiar with.
While vacationing in Hawaii last June, the teen noticed a pain her leg that would turn out to be much more than merely an aching limb.
“When I got home from Hawaii my leg was swollen…it hurt so bad and became more and more painful to where I could hardly sit,” Lauren said.
After several tests, she’d soon find out that the pain signaled Ewing sarcoma, a fast-growing cancerous bone tumor.
The teen began 17 two-week rounds of chemotherapy at the same time as 31 sessions of radiation treatment a month after her diagnosis; Lauren has continued to remain upbeat despite the pain she’s endured through the treatments.
Upon the diagnosis, Lauren’s family found out about the Kids Wish Network from a nurse who worked at the hospital she was admitted to.
After submitting the required paperwork, Lauren was asked by the organization to recite her special wish.
At first, the two-year high school swimming MVP thought about choosing to go to Florida, which she mentioned was her favorite city to visit; she’d also thought about choosing to attend a filming of the Food Network’s Iron Chef, her favorite television show.
Ultimately, Lauren chose the Olympics swimming trials; she and her family spent four days in Nebraska last month for the event.
“I wanted to see all the really good swimmers there…plus my whole family loves swimming,” said Lauren, who broke records in both the 50-meter freestyle, and 100-meter backstroke in her swimming class while attending Laguna Creek High.
Lauren’s dream to attend the trials was even much more exciting than she’d expected.
“We had amazing seats that were right behind the media seats,” she said.
The avid swimming fan met Olympians Summer Sanders and Conor Dwyer during her trip.
“They were both really nice…Conner was incredibly cool,” Lauren said. “I felt really at home in that swimming arena.”
Lauren’s future plans include studying Kinesiology at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.
She mentioned that she is regularly monitored for cancer, although at this time she has no traces of the disease in her system.
“I’m not on any medications right now…I’m just down to getting tested regularly,” she said.
Kids Wish Network Coordinator and Manager of the Wish Department, Jill Atkinson noted that the organization doesn’t grant wishes to just anyone.
A child must be between the ages of 3-18, must have not had a wish granted from any other organization, be battling a life threatening condition, and able to communicate the issue themselves.
“We really enjoy making these kids’ wishes come true,” she said. “It helps them get a break from all their medical issues… I love hearing the stories regarding these wishes that come from all over the country.”
Elk Grove Citizen – Elk Grove, California