Snow memories live on for Emily
Memories of her wish trip to the snow continue to warm Emily's fragile heart, which required three dangerous surgeries before she had turned 5.
The snow she wished to see may have melted long ago, but the memories are still solid for former wish child, Emily.
Emily, now 6, has had three major heart surgeries to fix her hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
In the winter of 2019, Emily, her little sister Faith, and parents Kelly and Paul went to Mt Hotham for her wish. It was the first time the children and Paul had seen snow.
Some twelve months later, Kelly said the ‘Wish Effect' was still going strong, while Emily's wish experience had played a role in the family returning to "a more normal" life.
"Emily's wish gave our whole family memories of fun and laughter that will last forever," Kelly said.
"Since returning from her wish, we bought our first home on acreage and got some chickens.
"Emily started grade 1 this year, and Faith is in kindy. We have had a busy time, but we will never forget what an amazing gift Make-A-Wish has given us."
The 'worse thing ever' hits parents hard
Kelly was 18 weeks pregnant when doctors first noticed her baby had heart problems. The news hit Kelly and Paul hard, both being "all loved up" and excited for their first baby.
"We learned she might have big physical delays, she might not do very well at school, and she might have a mental impairment. We were like, 'this is the worse thing ever’," Kelly recalls.
Three heart surgeries plus three further (dangerous) procedures later, Emily's heart has now been stable for a couple of years - but Kelly says it will never be normal.
"She only has one pumping chamber instead of two," Kelly said.
"She will have check-ups every 6 to 12 months for the rest of her life, but she is travelling smoothly at the moment."
To try lots of new things at the snow!Emily, 6 hypoplastic left heart syndrome
Husky high for Emily
Making a snowman, having snowball fights with Dad, and having a picnic in the snow: these were all on Emily's list before they arrived at Mt Hotham.
Emily, who Kelly described as "calm, compassionate and caring," was able to tick most things off her to-do list; however, the cold and rain prevented one or two others.
Most memorably, when some terrible weather thwarted Emily and Faith's dreams of going on a husky-sled tour, the huskies came to their cabin.
"One of the highlights of the trip in the end was the husky people bringing the dogs into our cabin," Kelly said.
"It's not something they usually do. Emily was just so excited to pat the dogs, they licked her face, and it was just awesome. It was special; she got to spend time with them."
Kelly described the wish as "way beyond our expectations."
"From the moment we drove up the mountain, it was just more than we could have imagined," she said.
"We often pull out our photo album from the snow and remember all the fun things. It's a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime holiday that won't happen again, so it's very special."
Right now, hundreds of children like Emily are waiting for their wish to take place. But given the effects of COVID-19, many wishes are on hold. We need your support today to make sure no child misses out. Please help make the impossible possible.
When we applied for the wish, we just needed something to look forward to, to get us out of the hospital and have something in the future to think about.Kelly Emily's mum
The Wish Journey
How a wish comes to life
Make-A-Wish volunteers visit each child to capture their greatest wish, getting to the heart of what kids truly want and why. This profound insight is part of what makes Make-A-Wish unique, giving children full creative control and helping to shape their entire Wish Journey.
Back at Make-A-Wish HQ, we partner with families, volunteers and medical teams to design the ultimate wish experience - and start rallying our partners and supporters to help make it happen.
In the lead up to the wish, we take each child on a journey designed to build excitement and provide a welcome distraction from medical treatment. Anticipation can be incredibly powerful, helping to calm, distract and inspire sick kids at a time they need it most.
When the moment finally arrives, children get to experience their greatest wish come true - it's everything they've imagined and more. Pinch yourself, and don't forget to take a breath and enjoy every precious moment!
Wish impact studies show that a child's wish lives on, long after the moment. A wish gives more than just hope – with an incredible and lasting effect on the lives of sick kids, their families and wider communities.