Capri is an outgoing, bubbly and energetic little girl who loves to dance and play dress up as her favorite Disney princesses. But, when Capri was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April 2015, her family saw their daughter change before their eyes.
“Capri lost a lot of the personality we know and love during her treatment,” said her mom, Amy. “She became more shy and timid and didn’t talk for weeks when her hair fell out. At just four years old, leukemia was very hard for her to understand.”
When Capri first met her Make-A-Wish Arizona wish granters, she was still in the early stages of her treatment. She had been hospitalized many times and for the past year, her family could not travel due to her health.
Just the idea of visiting a place with her favorite princesses made Capri excited!
“Her wish granters really helped her come out of her shell and be more receptive,” said Amy. “Capri hadn’t talked to anyone in a long time, but when they started asking her about her wish, she instantly opened up about going to Walt Disney World.”
As a special bonus, Capri’s wish granters revealed she would be going on her one true wish during her fifth birthday in January!
“Her jaw literally dropped,” said Amy. “She’s never been to Walt Disney World and constantly talked about going after that first meeting with her wish granters. Seeing that happiness from my daughter was so wonderful because it was something we hadn’t seen in a long time.”
According to Amy, as soon as Capri knew her wish would be granted, she started to feel better. Her enthusiasm returned and she began to talk to people again, especially when she could tell them about her wish.
“During those few months, with all of the anticipation and excitement, we actually saw Capri’s health and personality improve,” said Amy. “She was looking forward to her wish so much she planned everything - all the rides she wanted to go on and the characters she wanted to meet.”
It wasn’t long before Capri, her parents and her three-year-old brother, Kellen, packed their bags for an exciting wish trip. Even before her family boarded the plane, Southwest Airline agents sang “Happy Birthday” to Capri from the loudspeaker and presented her and Kellen goodie bags for the flight.
When Capri and her family arrived at Give Kids the World, their home for the next week, Capri was mesmerized.
“Give Kids the World was its own little park in itself, with rides and fun activities to do each day. The free ice cream was a big hit for the kids…and for us, too,” said Capri’s dad, Dallin, with a laugh.
“I had vanilla ice cream with sprinkles every single day!” Capri said.
Her family spent their first day visiting Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Capri had front row tickets to every show, where the characters incorporated her into the performance and wished her a happy birthday.
Quite the little thrill seeker, Capri braved a lot of the “big kid” rides at the Magic Kingdom.
“She loved Splash Mountain and wanted to go again and again,” said Dallin. “Capri wanted to go on everything that was fast and we loved watching how much fun she was having.”
Dallin and Amy especially loved watching their children play and laugh with each other again.
“Capri and her brother are so close in age, so when she stopped talking to him, their relationship was altered,” said Amy. “He had a hard time dealing with her treatment and the changes in her personality, but on her wish, Capri was finally her old self again.”
Capri was able to meet all of her favorite princesses – Elsa, Ariel, Tinkerbell and Cinderella – and her wish also included a special surprise, tickets to SeaWorld and Universal Studios! She loved the dolphin encounter, where she learned a few tricks and watched the dolphins sing and spin around.
“I kissed a dolphin and saw a big beluga whale!” Capri shouted.
“The funniest memory we have from Capri’s wish is one of the SeaWorld shows,” said Amy. “Capri couldn’t wait to sit right next to the whales and be in the splash zone, but as soon as they announced we would get wet she ran up to sit with her dad, just in time for me and her brother to get completely soaked! She thought it was so funny when they showed us on the big screen getting drenched in slow motion.”
Even her evenings were busy. Capri loved watching the fireworks shows and parades featuring the Disney characters.
“We saw Capri’s energy and confidence return so much more each day,” said Amy. “Everywhere we went, she was smiling and singing and dancing, it was so heartwarming to see.”
“It’s really a miracle,” said Dallin. “As parents, it was so meaningful to see how committed everyone was about giving Capri this amazing wish and witnessing all of the little things that made her so happy.”
Looking back on the experience, Amy believes her daughter’s wish came at the perfect time.
“Although Capri is young and still grasping and understanding everything, we were so ready for a change,” said Amy. “It doesn’t matter whether a wish kid is 2 or 17; just having something to look forward to – the idea of a wish – helped bring hope and life back to Capri and our family.”
Now, Capri is back in school and enjoying her dance classes again.
“Capri still has a year and a half of treatment left, but we see her wish like a finale of the hardest part and a well-deserved reward for everything she’s endured and accomplished,” said Amy. “Since Capri’s wish, our friends and family have already noticed she’s changed and her dance teacher broke into tears seeing her personality and energy level has returned again. The difference just one week can make is incredible.”