Sydney was just 10 years old when she started having consistent headaches. Two years later, her vision started to deteriorate. Worried about her declining health, Sydney’s parents took her to the doctor where she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and immediately admitted to the intensive care unit for surgery. Sydney had multiple surgeries that spanned a four-month period to remove a tangerine-sized tumor. To this day, she still struggles with lingering side effects with her balance and hand-eye coordination.
Ten years later, Sydney appreciates life and all the people in it, and believes her experience with cancer has given her strength that has become second nature. Her experience with cancer changed how she views the world and herself. While the fear that cancer brought has faded with time, the one memory that remains is her wish experience.
“What I remember is the fun, the laughter, the sights, my family, and the people who made all of it happen,” Sydney said. “My wish was truly life-changing and is still our favorite experience as a family.”
For Sydney’s wish, she chose to go on a Disney Cruise Line® cruise. The highlight of her trip was to visit the Atlantis resort on Nassau. At Atlantis, Sydney and her family spent hours on the river rapids tube ride. “It was amazing having this one ride we all had a blast on.” For Sydney, her wish experience was the only time her family had such a big vacation together.
Through her wish, Sydney was able to celebrate her recovery from cancer. A disruptive period in her life that not only affected her, but her family as well. Her wish became an experience that allowed her whole family to shed the stress of surgeries, hospital stays, and physical therapy. They were given the opportunity to relax and bond without Sydney’s diagnosis at the forefront of their minds.
After her wish was granted, Sydney stayed involved with Make-A-Wish by volunteering with Make-A-Wish South Dakota through various public relations events. She graduated high school, moved to Minneapolis, and studied at the University of Minnesota where she majored in Geography. After she graduated in 2018, she worked at the University of Minnesota before applying for the referral intake coordinator position at Make-A-Wish Minnesota.
Now, working at Make-A-Wish is a dream job for Sydney. As an adult, she can reflect on her magical experience and bring the joy that she carries within her into her work as a Make-A-Wish Minnesota’s referral intake coordinator. Sydney knows first-hand the difference a wish can make for a child facing a critical illness, she's so glad to be able to help grant wishes for other families.
Since 1980, Disney and Make-A-Wish® have granted wishes for more than 130,000 children with critical illnesses around the world.