At the age of 12, Arizona wish kid Hailey first found a kindred spirit when she watched Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. The two share many things in common - brown curly hair, glasses, witty personalities - and Hailey was soon seeking out any and all of Tina’s appearances, movies and even books.
When Hailey was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease in 2011, it was a very difficult time for her and her family. But Hailey found new strength thinking of her one, true wish – an opportunity to meet her idol, Tina Fey.
“I love writing, I love comedy, I just felt like I could really relate to Tina,” said Hailey.
When she received a very special phone call to deliver the news that the meeting was arranged, she couldn’t believe it.
“I immediately started bawling tears of joy when I found out I would actually be able to meet Tina Fey,” Hailey said.
Soon enough, Hailey and her parents flew to New Mexico to meet Tina on the set of her movie, Whisky Tango Foxtrot. The night before the big day, Hailey could barely sleep, she was so excited.
“I stayed up all night writing down questions I wanted to ask her!” said Hailey. “The next morning, we drove 20 minutes to our destination but it felt like hours because of the anticipation.”
When Hailey and her parents arrived on set, she received her own personal director’s chair with her name embroidered on it. She even went to a custom dress fitting, complete with hair and makeup.
“I felt like a movie star, they made me look flawless!” said Hailey. “I was so overwhelmed I didn’t even notice Tina Fey standing right next to me!”
After years of looking up to Tina Fey, Hailey admits she was so nervous to finally meet her role model. But Tina had her laughing within the first minute.
“I instantly felt comfortable,” said Hailey. “She was so easygoing, personable, genuine – and beautiful! She made me feel special, but not the kind of special attention you give someone because they are sick. It was just like having a conversation with another one of my good friends.”
“When you feel like you’ve been dealt such a bad hand in life, it means the world to hear some good news,” said Hailey. “Make-A-Wish Arizona gave me something wonderful; something to hold onto in the tough times ahead.”
Hailey’s mom, Amy, said she will never forget the look on Hailey’s face when she saw Tina for the first time.
“Even my husband had a tear in his eye! It was a beautiful moment that would pull on anyone’s heartstrings,” Amy said.
Throughout the day, Hailey bonded with Tina over their favorite foods and Star Wars characters. But Hailey’s favorite moment was the first time she made Tina laugh.
“I told a joke and she actually laughed at something I said!” said Hailey. “It made my life!”
Since Hailey’s experience, her mom has seen the physical impact this wish has had on her daughter.
“She normally gets tired so easily from her illness, but time just flew by during her wish,” said Amy. “Hailey had no symptoms of chemotherapy the entire time and I truly believe her wish gave her strength and changed her fighting spirit.”
After starting college this year, Hailey is motivated to write her own personal memoir.
“One day, I hope to tell my kids about this once-in-a-lifetime wish and Tina inspired me to share more about my life story with others,” Hailey said.
“Hailey’s wish has given her hope and reignited her passion for writing,” said Amy. “This experience put the fight back into her; I can see it in her eyes.”
Hailey, who takes oral chemotherapy every day for her illness, is happy she will always have the memories from her wish to think about on days when treatments are difficult.
“I’m so grateful to Make-A-Wish Arizona and I will remember my wish for the rest of my life!” said Hailey. “I’ve had all of my hair fall out and needed to stay an extra year of high school, but meeting Tina Fey was my one true wish and this experience exceeded anything I could have ever imagined.”