Ellen, now in her mid-20s, still remembers her wish like it was yesterday, and she is so grateful for the opportunity and the impact that her wish has had on her and her family.
Diagnosed with systemic lupus, Ellen spent a lot of time at home or in the hospital. She passed those days at home watching Good Morning America, which stoked her young interests in pursuing journalism. When introduced to Make-A-Wish, 10-year-old Ellen decided her dream was to meet the team on Good Morning America.
Though this wish took place back in 2002, there are still some very vivid details that Ellen recalls, and the moment she realized she was getting her wish is one that stuck out in her mind.
“I was in the car after my mom had picked me up from school and she had Make-A-Wish on the phone…I just kept laughing, I couldn’t believe it,” Ellen recalls.
Make-A-Wish flew Ellen and her family to New York City where they got to meet the cast of Good Morning America plus a few more Big Apple attractions. They saw three musicals, walked around Times Square and visited many tourist sites throughout their time in New York City. Ellen was really happy that Make-A-Wish took care of everyone, even though it was her wish.
Her family, especially her mom, was so happy throughout this experience as well. “For a few days it was just a magical experience, not worrying about the illness and seeing Ellen’s relief from thinking about the treatments on a day-to-day basis,” Andrea told Make-A-Wish in 2002.
Ellen told Make-A-Wish shortly after her wish that she was nervous when she first met Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer, but soon realized they were genuinely nice people so she was able to relax and have a good time. Ellen was able to sit with the anchors on air and introduce upcoming segments.
“I have a photo album of all the pictures that I still bring out from time to time and it was nice to have a happy memory with me while I was sick in the hospital. You carry your wish with you for a long, long time. It’s much more than people think,” Ellen said.
Ellen graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. She is currently a nurse at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, which is the same hospital that she thanks for saving her life.
As part of the chapter’s 30th anniversary celebration, Ellen attended the Make-A-Wish Illinois annual black-tie gala as a Wish Ambassador representing her wish year and sharing her story with guests. She also volunteers in the Make-A-Wish office, helping with the referral paperwork, an important part of getting a child started in the wish process.
“The wish still means so much to me. It was the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.”
PHOTO: Ellen (left) with fellow wish alum Molly Marcucci at Wish Ball.