At 11 years old she was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer -- one that required her to be hospitalized for 35 days straight. She wasn’t allowed to go outside or even leave her hospital room.
The intensive chemotherapy made her very sick. With nothing to do except lie in her bed, Olivia found solace in movies and TV shows. One of her favorites? Star Wars. Her dad, George, bought her the entire box set and she quickly grew to love the characters and the story.
When the volunteers from Make-A-Wish arrived at Olivia’s house, they instantly gave her the gift of something to look forward to. “She was having a particularly hard day,” said George. “Then, boom! The prospect of a wish was like a ray of sunshine over the house.”
It was decided that Olivia and her family would fly from New York to attend the next Star Wars premiere in Los Angeles – which was two years away! Olivia knew it would be worth it, though, and for the next two years, every time she was a little down she would think about her wish and know that there were good times ahead.
When the family finally touched down in Los Angeles, “It was above and beyond,” George said. “We landed in LA and the car was there for us. We walked into the hotel room and there was a big basket from the hotel for us. That first day we walked right onto Hollywood Boulevard and the next morning we drove down to the beach and put our feet in the Pacific.”
Olivia was most excited to meet Daisy Ridley. Little did she know she would get to meet every member of the cast who attended the premiere! She also met members of the crew, including J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy.
After the premiere (which Olivia thought was amazing!), Olivia and her dad got to attend the official after-party. They didn’t get home until after one in the morning!
The wish marked a dramatic change from the girl who was so sick she missed almost two full years of school. Sixth and seventh grade were marked by many days at home on the couch, learning from a private tutor because she was too sick to go to class. That tutor is now a good friend of the family, but happily, Olivia is back in school full time now. The wish was the perfect culmination of more than two years of treatment. Olivia got stronger and stronger, and the wish came at a perfect time. The combination of knowing that the wish was coming and also feeling her strength slowly returning helped Olivia return to her regular self. “She went through something horrific,” said George, “and then she got to celebrate. That celebration was one of the greatest experiences of our lives.”
Olivia’s family is so grateful for her wish because they recognize that they could not have done it on their own. “It’s a gift that a parent can’t provide,” said George. “When a child is sick, you go into protective mode. Your job is to make them feel better, but you feel weak and powerless because there isn’t anything you can do. That’s when you depend on other people. Make-A-Wish gave us something that no matter how hard I tried, I could never give to my child.”
“It’s something that I can’t repay. All I can do is say ‘thank you’ and express, to the end of my days, what a wonderful organization Make-a-Wish is. You are truly our angels.”