Kennedy was nearly four years old when she lost her ability to talk and understand spoken language. “She would just stare at us blankly and we couldn’t figure out what was going on,” Kennedy’s mom, Jaci, said. Test results revealed a devastating neurological disorder diagnosis. “We were shocked, disappointed and heartbroken,” Jaci said.
The years following Kennedy’s diagnosis consisted of so much uncertainty as her family and doctors treated her disorder the best they could with medications and diet, but she still spent a lot of time at the hospital.
Finally, the Mayo Clinic recommended a surgery that would remove part of Kennedy’s brain. The night before the last of three surgeries, Kennedy learned she would be granted a wish. The news was a welcomed distraction for Kennedy that night. She was so wrapped up in the possibilities she was no longer thinking about tomorrow’s surgery. Her parents joined her in daring to look past tomorrow, and instead looked to the future.
In 2011, Kennedy’s wish came true. Her family traveled to New York City to meet ballerinas from the New York City Ballet. “Kennedy’s wish was so much joy for our family,” Jaci said. “It gave us a lot of encouragement as parents to see us get to do something as a family. Our lives had truly been on hold—we didn’t know what we were going to do the next week or month, so we could never make big plans. It was something to look forward to and experience together.”
Kennedy’s wish experience inspired Jaci to get involved with Make-A-Wish Minnesota, She served on a regional Make-A-Wish Minnesota committee for several years and is a volunteer wish granter. Her kids also help her with wish granting. “Our family has enjoyed giving back,” Jaci said.
Today, at age 12, Kennedy continues to fight her illness. But, memories of her wish continue to provide joy. She often re-lives her wish experience through the videos and photos taken during her trip to New York City. “It brought us hope in a really dark time,” Jaci said.
When you help Make-A-Wish Minnesota grant wishes: Hope is returned. Strength is regained. Joy is restored. Thank you for your support during the past 35 years. We look forward to another 35 years of wish granting and hope you will join us on this journey.
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