Six-year-old Amelia’s life is full of uncertainties. After being diagnosed with a genetic condition at birth, Amelia has endured a series of medical surgeries and procedures, never knowing a life without sickness. But through it all, there was one thing Amelia was sure of – her most heartfelt wish. She wanted to be a cowgirl.
Amelia was eligible to receive a wish after having a liver transplant, a procedure she needed as a result of her genetic condition, Alagille syndrome.
“It is a very complex diagnosis,” Amelia’s dad said, as it affects the liver, heart and other organs. “She had 10 surgeries and procedures before she even received the liver transplant.”
Luckily, things improved after she received a transplant. That’s when Amelia’s family was ready to meet with Make-A-Wish® volunteers.
“She would get so excited and say, ‘My wish makers are coming over!’” Amelia’s dad said.
She decided she wanted to be a cowgirl just like the character in her favorite show, Sheriff Callie, about a cat sheriff who keeps order in her old west town.
But just four months after receiving her transplant, her wish had to be put on hold.
“She was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma,” Amelia’s dad said. “It actually came from her new liver.”
The following 35 weeks, Amelia received chemotherapy. During this time, she was still dreaming about her wish, which helped her push forward through treatment.
“We started over with her wish a year later,” Amelia’s dad said. And even though time had passed, she still wanted to be a cowgirl.
That’s when Make-A-Wish sent Amelia and her family to Tanque Verde Ranch in Tuscan, Arizona for a week of Wild West adventures. Amelia learned how to be a true cowgirl from a real-life rodeo queen, who taught her how to ride horses and lasso. Amelia was even gifted some gear of her own – a hot pink lasso, a matching cowgirl hat and a custom leather belt.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Amelia’s dad said. “The whole thing that came together…it is an amazing process. Everyone we met at the ranch did everything to make it incredible.”
At the end of her cowgirl experience, a gang of ranch members hosted a celebration for Amelia becoming an official cowgirl and presented her with a special certificate.
For Amelia’s parents, this was a moment they will never forget.
“You’re proud of your kid all the time,” Amelia’s dad said. “But to look at what she has been through and see her smile…it’s incredible.”
Amelia’s dad believes that her wish gave her a new positive perspective and an “I can do this” attitude.
Amelia isn’t alone, either – other wish children have experienced something similar. According to a recent study published in Quality of Life Research, “From a motivational point of view, wish fulfillment can be seen as a motivator for coping and hope for the future” (Shoshani 2015).