Welcome to the KWN Family: Meet Wish Funding Specialist Kiara

KiaraHello! My name is Kiara, and I started with Kids Wish Network a couple of months ago as a Wish Funding Specialist. My previous non-profit experience was focused on breaking the barriers of extreme poverty in third-world countries. It may seem like a big change to go from advocating for children and families in extreme poverty to advocating for children and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses, but I promise it’s not.

I’ll never forget the feeling when I received one of my first Wish Kids. Her name is A’hyzia, and she suffers from multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is a disease where your body’s immune system turns against the central nervous system, ultimately leading to problems with your muscles, vision, senses, and balance.

In November of 2012, A’hyzia suffered stroke-like symptoms which caused her to lose control of her left side. An MRI located spots on her brain, and she was kept in the hospital for almost four months. In July 2013, A’hyzia lost her voice and control of her right side. Doctors then tested for, and confirmed, the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

A'hyzia Johnson- photo for Kiara's blogA’hyzia is currently treated with various medications as doctors try to slow the disease’s progression, but there is no known cure. This disease is something I am all too familiar with.

I was about 16 years old when I had first heard of multiple sclerosis. I woke up one day with a huge pain in my right eye that would get worse anytime my eye moved. My mom being the amazing nurse that she is, dragged me to the doctor’s office. It took some scanning and blood tests to finally hear what had happened; my optic nerve was swollen. Little did I know, this was a symptom related to multiple sclerosis.

It took the car ride home for me to understand what was happening. It was the first time I had ever seen my mom scared. Being in healthcare, she knew the complications of MS. After months and months of CT scans, MRIs, and blood tests, the pain went away. I was told that I was too young for it to be determined if those symptoms would stay away and never come back. I would have to check back in if anything out of the ordinary were to pop up. The thought of actually having MS will forever be in the back of my mind.

My aunt was just recently diagnosed with a benign form of MS, and my grandmother is going through testing for similar symptoms, so the disease has been shown in my immediate family. I don’t like to dwell on it or speak about it much because it is such a scary thought.

When I heard A’hyzia’s story, I felt I could relate to her more than someone else who hadn’t gone through the same situation. I imagine we had some of the same thoughts and feelings during the diagnosis process. I am very enthusiastic about sharing her story, because, just like the rest of our Wish Kids, she deserves to be granted a wish experience so, for at least a few fun-filled days, she can feel like any other 15-year-old who doesn’t have a life-threatening illness.

A’hyzia was only 14 years old when she was diagnosed with MS, but, instead of letting her illness bring her down, she uses it as a tool for inspiration. She inspires me to keep moving forward with my head up, despite any bumps in the road. Rather than hiding in fear of her life-threatening illness, A’hyzia wants to know more so she can help others who are suffering with the same disease.

Children deserve to live and play like children. They shouldn’t have to worry about frequent doctor or hospital visits. It’s children like A’hyzia, and all the other great kids we serve, that make my job rewarding. Every child is allowed to dream, and I get to be a part of something bigger than myself to help make these dreams come true.

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48,632 kids helped this last fiscal year through our many programs and services.

Our Mission

Kids Wish Network is a charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Kids Wish Network assists children and their families through several key programs.