Katelyn cannot stop smiling. She has a plenty to smile about as she relaxes, looking out into the never-ending blue water with her entire family by her side.
For the past few years, Katelyn has lived with Leukemia and fights for her life with perseverance each and every day. Although she has her loving family’s support along every step of her journey, the hospital visits and looming tests are not easy for a 15-year-old girl to endure.
After being referred to Make-A-Wish® Illinois by a child life specialist, Katelyn learned that her wish to go to Hawaii with her parents and two brothers would be granted. Sponsored by the United Health Foundation, her travel wish became a reality in July 2014 when Katelyn flew to Honolulu to enjoy her relaxing family vacation.
While in Hawaii, Katelyn and her family had the opportunity to attend a starlight luau which featured hula performers, acrobatic fire dancers, and an authentic Hawaiian dining experience--Katelyn loved every second of it! The trip concluded with a visit to Sea Life Park, where Katelyn and her family had the chance to get up close-and personal with dolphins, one of her favorite parts of the trip.
“We just enjoyed each other and being able to go and not have to worry about anything was incredible,” Katelyn’s mom, Wendy, said to the Quad-City Times. “She (Katelyn) hasn’t been able to do that for quite some time.”
Katelyn and her family returned from the wish trip to a warm welcome-home party hosted by the United Health Foundation. Katelyn’s wish is one of more than 2,136 wishes funded by UnitedHealth Group since 2007 through a $7.5 million dollar alliance with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“We are very happy to play a role in making Katelyn’s wish trip come true,” said Steve Walli, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Illinois. “Make-A-Wish truly makes a positive impact in our communities and brings joy to so many children courageously facing life-threatening medical conditions.”
Since Katelyn’s wish has come true, the impact of the wish experience remains with her and her family in Aledo. It has instilled a great sense of hope, strength and joy into the lives of Katelyn, her family, and all those involved in the wish experience.
Katelyn and her family at a luau.
Katelyn swims with a dolphin.
Katelyn and her mom enjoy a sunny day.