When Grace met Bella
Grace, aged 8, always wanted a best friend and thanks to generous donors and supporters she got one. A 2kg pug puppy named Bella is Grace’s new best friend.
For Wish mum Tanya alarm bells first rang when her daughter Grace’s therapist noticed something wasn’t quite right.
“She noticed that Grace couldn’t lift her arms and her legs wouldn’t sit very well,” Tanya said.
“I thought being a prem baby it’s just a short delay and it’s going to happen eventually. But she just didn’t meet milestones.”
Tanya also observed 11-month-old Grace slouching and placing her head on the ground a lot. She took Grace to the doctor and the diagnosis came back as cerebral palsy spasticity and a few months later, spasticity diplegia.
Now 8, Grace relies on a wheelchair to get around.
“She copes but she also has her moments,” Tanya said.
Best friend wanted
Grace’s wish was to have a pug puppy. So that for once she could be the one that does the looking after rather than being looked after.
“She’s told me, this is how she describes it …. ‘I’m going to have a baby! And I’m going to have to look after this baby’,” Tanya said.
Grace’s puppy would also be her best friend, filling a long-standing void.
“She wanted a best friend, someone that will be by her side all the time,” Tanya said.
“Unfortunately we don’t have that, even at school. Grace just doesn’t have that connection. And there is no one else like Grace. All cerebral palsys are different.”
For months Grace had been counting down the days and getting prepared for her best friend. With the help of her wish team, Grace had carefully prepared for her pup Bella's arrival.
From Melbourne with love
Two hearts were beating fast at the exact same time.
At Hobart Airport, pug Bella had just arrived from Melbourne and was picked up by Make-A-Wish volunteers Paul and Lyn.
“Bella's heart was really going fast, it was noticeable,” Paul said.
About 50kms away, Grace was waiting for Bella - the best friend she did not have.
“This morning she just laid there waiting and waiting and asking what time it was,” Tanya said. “When it was getting close you just see she was anxious. She said something like ‘my heart mum, my heart just won’t stop’.”
Paul and Lyn drove Bella to Grace’s house.
Waiting out in her front yard with family and friends, Grace smiled and squealed as Bella arrived.
“She’s soooo c-u-t-e!”, Grace said.
'Never seen her this happy'
An hour after Bella arrived, Tanya’s eyes welled up when she was asked if she had seen Grace this happy.
“No, no ….. this is amazing, absolutely amazing,” Tanya said.
“I can just tell, I can see in her eyes. It just seems like she’s not disabled at all right now. There is not a thing in the world that can make her unhappy right now. And I am sure that’s going to continue. She just loves it so much.
“Grace is not an outside child so getting back outside for me is awesome. She will want to be outside because Bella is going to want to be outside.”
Days later and the bond between Grace and Bella had grown.
“They are best friends, they are inseparable,” Tanya said.
In her words, 'my life is complete'. It's a small wish, but it's made a big impact.Tanya Grace'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.