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Until the age of two-and-a-half, Kalista, who goes by Kali, was a very high-spirited child. She was always smiling, laughing, talking, and was very passionate about getting her message across. “Whether she was angry or happy, she made sure everyone knew about it,” says Kali’s mother.
Kali was diagnosed with leukemia when she was two, after her parents took her to the hospital and the doctor ordered blood work. They had no idea of the life-changing news to follow: “We thought she had the flu. One second she was getting blood work done, the next she was being rushed to oncology,” explains Kali’s mother. “We had no idea it was so critical.” Within the hour, Kali was being monitored in the ICU, required a nurse at her bedside for 48 hours, and endured 27 blood transfusions, one after the other, just to sustain her life.
The joyful spirit that once lived inside of Kali seemed to disappear. She became very quiet, docile and introverted. “It was strange to see this drastic change in Kali’s personality,” says her mother. This fast-moving roller coaster never allowed the family to process the situation they were in. Only later, when a nurse approached the family with an opportunity from Make-A-Wish®, did they realize this was serious: “At first I was shocked. It’s kind of a reality check when you are presented with an opportunity for your child to have a wish,” says Kali’s mother. “This was something she needed in life – she needed some kind of hope.”
Kali specifically wanted to pet a killer whale, or, as she referred to it, ‘a black and white dolphin.’
“We had no idea where this idea came from,” says Kali’s mother. “But, Kali knew how critical her condition was and was very adamant about having this as her wish.”
Kali and her family traveled to Orlando, Florida, where her wish would come true. There, Kali was able to pet a ‘black and white dolphin’ at SeaWorld, and the family enjoyed a worry-free week, away from all the treatments and pain. “It was quite magical to see this unfold,” says Kali’s mother. “Wishes really are a magical form of healing.”
Thirteen years later, Kali is completing grade 12. She is a passionate musician, and she plans to pursue a career in the music industry. “She’s a very happy, peaceful girl,” says Kali’s mother. “Thank you for everything.”