15-year-old Tiahna is an inquisitive and outgoing teen. She loves playing basketball, hanging out her friends, and doing anything else a typical teenager does. One of Tiahna’s biggest interests is learning about history and other cultures. Experiencing different ways of life has always been very fascinating to her.
Diagnosed with sickle cell disease, a blood disorder, when she was born, Tiahna often experiences dizziness and fatigue, and has learned to lean on support from groups like the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. Because of her involvement with this group, Tiahna has always known that she was eligible for a wish because of the severity and complications of her disease, but it wasn’t until January of 2017 that Tiahna finally thought of a meaningful wish she would remember for the rest of her life. Right away, Tiahna’s parents referred her to Make-A-Wish.
Interested in where her ancestors came from, she was keen to visit Africa, and specifically the country of South Africa. She ultimately wished to go to the city of Cape Town after learning about the interesting things there are to do there.
Tiahna’s trip to Cape Town was truly incredible. After exploring the wonderful city and surrounding landscape, Tiahna got her adrenaline pumping with a deep-sea cage dive. She was able to see large sharks and stingrays up close in an unforgettable experience. Tiahna recalls that her favorite part of the trip was being able to meet children and adults in impoverished communities who also suffer from sickle cell disease.
“It was so humbling to meet all of these wonderful people who have it much worse than you do,” Tiahna mentions.
Tiahna’s wish has inspired her to be a better person and she hopes to go back to South Africa to help those in need. Tiana adds, “My trip was so enlightening and has given me a brand new perspective on life.” In the future, Tiahna is hopeful that she will continue to be an advocate for her disease and help improve the lives of others who suffer from sickle cell disease.