Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mom

I remember that I hated when someone mentioned it to me.  We were about a week into our initial diagnosis and I was sitting in a playroom with my 2 year old attached to an IV pole.  “Have you asked for her wish yet?” a woman said to me.  If I had a weapon I would of hit her with it.  How dare she mention this to me one week in?  I didn’t know if my daughter was going to live or die and you are trying to tell me to call Make-A-Wish.  That organization is for dying kids, and she is not dying.

I could write a book on things you should not say to a parent in these situations.  This woman was obnoxious and out of line, but in the end she was right. Make-A-Wish was something we should look into, when we were ready.  When we were, we discovered that Make-A-Wish was not for dying children.  It was for children who had life-threatening diseases but not a death wish.  So we called, we asked Isabella what her wish would be, and they granted it.

For those of you who knew Isabella, you knew what this wish would be.  Of course it was to go to Disney World because she was all princess.  We had never been and we knew it would be hard to take her and Grant given her medical condition.  We had some stipulations of course because in all things, we knew what was best.  We asked to stay close to the park.  We had kids who napped and driving back and forth wasn’t an option.  She wanted to go Trick or Treating there so we got tickets to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween.  She wanted to meet princesses oh and we forgot to mention, Grandma is joining us on our trip.

Well… little did we know this Disney trip would ruin Disney forever.  J  Limo rides, rooms on the concierge floor at the Grand Floridian, overlooking the castle and every single thing her heart desired.  Grant was not left out of the festivities either – he was just as special.  Each day at the park was filled with meet and greets where she went to the front of every line with her brother.  They dressed up as Minnie and Mickey for Halloween and fell asleep together in a stroller every night.

Isabella was born to give sound bites.  She would hug you so tightly as we watched the fireworks each night say, “this is the best day of my life”, or “dreams really do come true Mommy!”.  I mean really.  It was crazy to watch because days before she could barely move in the hospital due to the toxic chemo.  It was like this trip brought her back to life in a way.

Disney became the thing we knew we could dangle in front of her.  I can’t tell you how many times we would unhook her IV in New York City, fly through Charlotte and pick up Grant (and eventually Sophia) and be on our way to Disney.  I would get calls from her oncologist while we were watching the parade by Cinderella’s castle with instruction on how to take her to the nearest hospital to check her blood counts.  We would walk through the park, occasionally finding a trashcan where she would hack up her latest side effect before getting on the next ride.  The girl was an animal.  She loved Disney – and it brought her back from sickness time and time again.

We even decided to take her there just a couple of weeks before she passed away. Make-A-Wish has made this place the one place in the world that brought her the most happiness.  We saw the impact that a wish trip had on her mental and physical state, as well as the rest of us.  It made miracles happen for us – so many times.

Make-A-Wish didn’t just give her a Disney trip.  It gave her some of the BEST days of her life and some of the best memories of mine.  For this reason, I can’t think of a better gift than to honor another girl’s wish on what would have been Isabella’s 13th birthday.  If she were here today, I know it would be her wish to pass this experience on to another child.   So that is what we will do for her.

Let’s Become a WishMaker Together in Honor of Isabella

Make-A-Wish granted Isabella her wish and gave her the best days of her life.  Make-A-Wish also gave her family the best memories of theirs.  The positive impact wishes give to kids and their families are invaluable.  

There is a girl fighting cancer, Sydney, who is 13 years old and wishes to visit the Harry Potter museum in London. We can’t think of a better gift than to honor another girl’s wish on what would have been Isabella’s 13th birthday.

Please donate to help make Sydney’s wish come true.  Donations of all values will help us collectively reach the $6,000 fundraising goal by March 31.


*Donations made to this campaign are a gift to the mission of Make-A-Wish. Each contribution will be pooled with other gifts to grant the wish of the child shown above or of other eligible children. Costs shown are estimates. All wishes listed will be granted.

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