From what she could see in movies or books, Penelope, 9, knew that New York City was a magical place. That was why her wish, to visit New York City in the winter, was the perfect wish for her!
Penelope was dealing with her second round of cancer when she first considered Make-A-Wish Arizona.
“That was the hardest thing we have ever had to go through, to know she fought so hard to be cancer free, and then to hear that it came back even more aggressive,” said Penelope’s mother, Perla. “Then the wish came and everything changed, and it was a light in the dark."
Penelope wished to see the bright lights of New York City, to find out firsthand if everything was shiny. She wanted out of the “dark” that was her battle with cancer.
Penelope’s mom and her volunteer wish granters kept much of Penelope’s wish a secret because she loves to be surprised.
“I loved that so much of my wish was a surprise! Everyday there was something new and exciting for my family and me to do,” said Penelope. “I loved being able to see the Statue of Liberty – I learned so much when I was visiting her - like she's had more than one torch!”
During her wish, Penelope visited all the big landmarks in Manhattan, such as The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, The World Trade Center Memorial and Radio City Music Hall.
Penelope loved that her wish trip was not only fun, but also educational.
“One of the coolest things we did was visit the National September 11th Memorial & Museum,” said Penelope. “I didn’t know everything that happened that day; I was able to learn way more about it, and tell my teacher at school.”
Her wish trip encouraged Penelope to look past her diagnoses and tough times, instead focusing on her wish.
“She was completely packed more than two weeks before we were leaving” said Perla. “She wouldn’t stop talking about wish, before and after.”
Penelope had so much fun in New York City, she brought a piece home with her thanks to a special present from Santa.
Santa brought Penelope an empty hamster cage. She was advised to think of two names while on her trip. When Penelope returned, she named one of her new hamsters Bronx – because going to the Bronx Zoo was one of her favorite parts of the trip.
“I felt like they shut the whole zoo down just for me,” said Penelope. “All the animals were out and playing, even though it was a cold and cloudy day. I’ve never seen anything like it."
The second hamster was named Brooklyn, “because one day when we took the subway, we accidentally ended up in Brooklyn!” said Penelope. "We laugh about it now, but I was nervous!”
Every day when she returns from school, Penelope plays with Bronx and Brooklyn and is reminded of her amazing trip to the Big Apple. According to Penelope, they are the "cutest things you will ever see."
“I had not seen my daughter that happy in a long time” said Perla. "This trip was so special to Penelope and is something that she will remember for the rest of her life."