In March 2015, Irelynn was 8 years old when she was diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of soft tissue cancer in the world.
“Soon after Irelynn was diagnosed, she had her first surgery,” said Irelynn’s mom, Mattea.
In need of some strength and hope in her life, Irelynn‘s dad referred her to Make-A-Wish Arizona where she learned she could have one true wish.
One of Irelynn’s favorite things to do is swim with her friends and family, so this made her decision easy.
“I chose Hawaii because I wanted to try something new, plus I love the beach, I wanted to see sea shells and I really wanted to meet a dolphin,” said Irelynn.
Then, she received another surprise. Macy’s selected Irelynn’s wish to sponsor as part of their National Believe Day program. Every year, Macy’s supports Make-A-Wish through their Believe campaign, raising money for future wishes. On National Believe Day, the stores like to host a wish reveal party to share the Believe magic with a special wish kid.
Irelynn’s wish was selected and she was invited to the Biltmore Macy’s store, not knowing that they were going to host a party to reveal her wish was coming true.
“Macy’s people took me on a scavenger hunt around the store, where I picked out luggage, then a dolphin beach towel, and then shopped for an outfit,” said Irelynn. “It ended with everyone cheering and a real hula dancer teaching me how to hula so I was ready for Hawaii!”
When Irelynn found out her wish was coming true, she couldn’t believe it!
“I felt so happy,” she said. “Sometimes things just don’t go right in life, and this was actually something that I knew was going to go right!”
The next thing they knew, Irelynn, her mom, dad and two brothers were off to Hawaii. They were greeted with a traditional Hawaiian welcome and showered with leis before even arriving to their hotel.
One of Irelynn’s favorite parts of the trip was visiting Dolphin Quest, a giant area where she could swim with dolphins at their hotel.
“It was fun because we all swam with a family of dolphins – a grandma, a mom and a son dolphin which we got to pet and feed, they felt really really slippery and rubbery,” said Irelynn. “I was on one side with my mom and brother, and my other brother and dad were on the other side when the dolphins would come and swim in between us, like they were doing tricks!”
But Irelynn and her family didn’t spend all their time meeting dolphins just at Dolphin Quest.
“The next day, we went out to a cove where we got to see a ton of dolphins in the wild. There were so many baby dolphins, mom and dad dolphins that were swimming under people,” Irelynn exclaimed. “In the cove, dolphins would just pop up by your face, like they were your friend!”
Besides all the awesome memories Irelynn has meeting dolphins, she loved hanging by the beach and exploring with her family on her wish.
“One of my favorite things was the 12-hour volcano tour. It took a whole day but there was actual lava that you could see glowing in the volcano a red and orange color at night,” Irelynn said.
“My family also went whale watching on a boat and saw coral reef that was 100 feet down in the water,” she said. “And we saw a ton of pretty seashells when my family went to the beach.”
Since they’ve been back, Irelynn and her family still talk about her wish.
“This trip means so much to our family,” Mattea said, “The continual support Make-A-Wish Arizona shows is so amazing and finding out we were going to Hawaii will always be one of the most precious moments. This whole time and experience… we are so thankful!”