The wish experience brings profound empowerment to any wish child. For 13-year-old Lauren
, it didn’t just provide her hope and joy, but it also gave her strength to push through the most difficult times. “Her wish was wonderful,” says Lauren’s mother, Nancy. “She was smiling from ear to ear the entire time.” Make-A-Wish®
sent Lauren and her family to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Lauren, who was diagnosed with heart failure and had a stroke, dreamed of swimming with dolphins in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean. Thanks to Make-A-Wish, she was finally able to live out that dream.
From lounging in the sun, to resting and recharging poolside, Nancy says the family vacation was the best prescription for her daughter. She recounts one afternoon when Lauren got up enough courage to ride the “30-foot waterslide” at the resort. Nancy recalls that she began to cheer for her little girl as she climbed up the steps, hand-in-hand with her father. She says it didn’t take long before she noticed other visitors at the resort, who joined behind her and showed their encouragement for Lauren with applause and kind words. “By the time Lauren got down to the bottom, we were all cheering and clapping and yelling her name,” Nancy gushes. “It was truly the best moment for me as a mother to see my daughter, who endured so much in her life, getting this positive attention from complete strangers. It was just gratifying because it really boosted her confidence.”
The most unforgettable experience for Lauren was her opportunity to swim with the dolphins alongside her family. “Her spirit was high the entire time,” Nancy remembers. Besides showing off tricks and playing in the water, the dolphins at one point gave Lauren a big kiss on the cheek. “The dolphin swim and the entire experience was perfect timing for Lauren because she was strong enough to participate in all the fun, and she could truly enjoy it,” Nancy explains. “I remember her laughing and splashing around in the water. She was just living in the moment.”
For someone who’s been through so much, her family says Lauren remains a spunky and cheerful teen, who loves to make those around her smile. “This trip and the entire Make-A-Wish experience turned the corner for our family. It gave us wonderful memories together and showed Lauren that really anything is possible.”
Wish-granting volunteers: Elaine Weiss & Rose Frisicaro
Wish story writer: Kate McGowan