Ashley’s first Make-A-Wish experience happened in 2015 when her younger brother Kyle, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, received a wish and the whole family traveled to Hawaii. Ashley and her family thoroughly enjoyed their trip but they had no idea that a year and a half later Ashley, too, would be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s and qualify for her own wish.
“I was aware that I qualified but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it all, being that I had already been on a wish,” Ashley said.
The 19-year-old was initially apprehensive but her wish granters reassured her by saying, “This is your wish and the last wish we gave to Kyle that was his and now it’s your time to do what you want to do.”
She knew right away that she wanted to leave the country and visit a tropical place that had sandy beaches and clear blue waters. She decided to go to the Caribbean to visit St. Lucia, and it lived up to all of her expectations.
“St. Lucia was incredible, unforgettable. It was my mom’s first time out of the country so it was really cool to be able to share that moment with her,” she said. “A lot of the excursions we did were really cool; specifically we were able to ATV through the island and in the little villages on the island and all the banana plantations.”
She and her family were also given a rental car, and since they drive on the opposite side of the road in St. Lucia, Ashley had a front row seat to watch her parents try to navigate the road.
“My parents had never experienced that before so that was so funny,” she laughed. “I look back at that and just laugh all the time.”
Her wish trip gave her something to look forward to during her treatment when she would feel different from other teens her age.
“Yes, I was in treatment, and I wasn’t in school, and I wasn’t going out with my friends on the weekend, and I was stuck in the hospital but it was always something to look forward to and to be like ’Oh where do I want to go, I can pick anywhere,’” she said. “That was something I would never be able to do without Make-A-Wish. And it took [my] mind off things.”
Ashley says all the people she’s worked with at Make-A-Wish have been “absolutely incredible”. She is now going into her sophomore year at the University of Dayton and her experiences with Make-A-Wish didn’t just impact her during her trip, they have also influenced her future.
“I actually wanted to be a nurse since going through treatment, but now after working with Make-A-Wish I’m so interested in working with them and maybe getting an internship next year,” she said. “They’ve really inspired me to do something with my story and work with non-profits or even open my own. So they changed my college career goals.”
To see Ashley’s trip through her eyes, watch the video she and her family made of the experience below.