Crystal likes to keep busy with her travel soccer team, violin lessons, and acting. After her leukemia diagnosis in 2015 ten year old Crystal had to put her sports and other activities on pause to make time for treatment at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. After Crystal’s family was referred to Make-A-Wish by her care providers, wish granting volunteers began working with her family to plan the perfect wish. One of Crystal’s wish granting volunteers was able to be a particularly great resource for her family because her own daughter had also been granted a wish in 2013.
Crystal, a huge animal lover, wished to experience all of her favorite creatures in their natural habitats. She got a break from her lengthy treatment when Make-A-Wish flew her and her family to South Africa to go on a wildlife safari. From the plane ride to the hotels and the excursions across the country, Crystal got to see a whole different world than her day-to-day life in Naperville. Crystal was thrilled to see so many wild animals including lions, hippos, elephants, cheetahs, and more. One special night the family even camped out in the middle of a fence-less national preserve. The family also toured Johannesburg and learned about the rich history and culture of South Africa.
Over two years of chemotherapy will dampen the spirits of even the most optimistic child. Crystal looked forward to this trip for months as she underwent treatment and now can look back and remember her safari adventure to help keep her positive when things are difficult. To call a trip like this a distraction “would be an injustice” according to Crystal’s father. Crystal’s mother agreed, saying it was good to get away from the hospital and just spend time together as a family.