Since she was a little girl, Brayden, 14, has wanted to visit the island of Hawaii to swim with the dolphins.
Make-A-Wish Arizona was able to make her wish come true this summer, when she traveled to the tropical state with her family and her best friend as her wish to go to Hawaii came true.
Brayden took in the sun, did a little surfing and eventually did ride with the dolphins that she had seen other wish kids do.
“The day my volunteer wish granters came and told me that my wish was coming true, I had a feeling that it was going to happen, but I wasn’t sure,” Brayden said. “I couldn’t believe my wish reveal! Everything was Hawaiian! They even gave me leis and a blow up ukulele.”
Brayden, who was diagnosed with cancer, was more than ready to escape to paradise after a summer spent in hospitals, being treated for her cancer.
“Last year, I had surgery during the summer and spent almost every day in the hospital or in bed,” she said. “It wasn’t very much fun.”
This was her first trip to Hawaii and she was going to make it count.
“I’ve just always wanted to go to Hawaii and swim with the dolphins since I was little,” she said.
Dolphins are her favorite mammal, so she couldn’t believe it when she was right there, in the water with them. Brayden, her mom, step-dad and best friend all took turns playing with the dolphin. “We learned how to train him to do tricks. We got to ride on its stomach, and it went on its back and we held on to its fins.” She added, “It was a lot of fun, I liked it a lot.”
So what was her first experience touching her favorite mammal like? “The dolphin was a baby boy and he was really slimy but soft,” Brayden said.
In addition to swimming with a dolphin, she also went horseback riding on the island. The scenic view came as somewhat of a shell shock for Brayden, who is accustomed to the dry shrubbery and cacti native to Arizona. “It was really fun and it was very pretty. It was very green and tropical. It was a change because we live in the desert,” she said.
The whole experience proved to be one for the books that Brayden will never forget. “My favorite thing was swimming with the dolphins and then being able to go out and swim and body surf and just enjoying the weather and view and take in how pretty it was,” she said.
“Thank you for making my wish come true that I’ve had for a very long time and that I was able to forget everything that was happing around me for a while.”