So, you want another one? They give you goosebumps, right? I know! Me too!
So this is Lauren. She was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma early in 2008. I had the honor of representing Make-A-Wish and meeting her during her treatments that September, when she was a Senior in high school.
We asked Lauren what her biggest wish in the world was. If she could go anywhere, if she could meet anyone, if she could have anything, if she could be anything just what might it be!
After a lot of debating, Lauren decided she would love to visit Hawaii, to swim with the dolphins, go to a luau, and have a Hawaiian spa day!
And when we got the "go," we officially sent her off on her wish to Hawaii with a real (Columbus-style) luau! We even managed to find a Hawaiian hula instructor to teach her a few moves!
Lauren and her family came home from the trip of a lifetime, invited us back into their home for a Hawaiian style meal, and told us about the whole trip from beginning to end! From that point on, we've become fast friends. Lauren, as well as her family, have stayed active with Make-A-Wish, our events and fundraisers, and have become a ever-present reminder to all of us why we do what we do!
See -- at this year's Christmas party she begged me to not let her be a "wish kid" anymore, but to let her start helping with the parties. I gladly slapped on her nametag and told her to start blowing up balloons. ;)
Last year at our first annual Evening of Wishes silent auction, Lauren was our guest speaker. And she rocked the house, I might add. And she rocked that house, and that speech, on crutches, as she recooperated from what amounted to a near hip replacement due to what the chemo did to her precious young body. Tell me she's not tough.
And at this year's Evening of Wishes, I told her to sit back and enjoy as a guest of honor, while her dad worked the room as a board member. Because yes, her dad now sits on our Board. Because he loves what we've done for his family, and having him there truly keeps it real for us all. And how can you not have fun with those two, seriously??!!
Lauren has had a rough few years, but I couldn't be prouder of any young lady. She's in college now. She's also in Nursing School. She wants to be an Oncology Nurse. How about that? Told you she was amazing.
Lauren and I are dear friends now, and have a standing dinner date every few weeks. Over nachos and margaritas we catch up on boys, and school, and work, and parents, and it never ceases to amaze me how ten years of age difference seem to disappear over the bond we've created. Maybe you find real friends when you awkwardly hula dance with them, or lose your hair, or work with other sick children hand-in-hand, or give boyfriend advice, or just double-dip in her cheese dip. ;)
Either way, Lauren is one of those friends I am so humbled and proud to have in my life. I am afraid she is sorely confused in calling me her mentor; she simply has no idea how much I want to be just like her when I grow up.
Lauren, I love you sis! And I wa so happy to toast with you last week!
CHEERS to three years in remission!!! You go girl!!