When Emily found out her wish was possible, she knew right away that she wanted to share it with the person who saved her life.
“My brother Mahlon was my bone marrow donor and without him, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Emily, who was diagnosed with leukemia at 13 years old. “We learned he was a perfect match and he agreed to do the transplant. It was a big procedure for both of us and it meant so much that he did this for me.”
While Emily received chemotherapy treatments and recovered from her surgery, she started considering all the options for her wish.
“I really wanted to travel and see the beaches, jungles and wildlife in Costa Rica,” she said. “My wish gave me hope that the cancer was going away. I felt like I was starting a whole new part of my life. I wanted to be fearless.”
Emily’s wish was her first time traveling outside of the country and to make it the best trip possible, she brought along her brother, her father and her best friend, McKenzie.
“My brother is in college now and I don’t get to see him as much, so it was really fun to all be together for my wish,” said Emily.
Emily said the Costa Rican culture and country was incredible to see for the first time, but she was most excited about all the activities.
On her first day, Emily and her family went ziplining. Emily, wanting to start her wish trip fearless, even went ziplining upside down.
Emily also visited a sloth sanctuary and hot springs, went horseback riding and hiked along the waterfalls, and went snorkeling.
“When we went snorkeling, the tour guide let us each hold a jellyfish and a sea urchin. That’s an experience I don’t think I would have anywhere else,” Emily said.
“Our tour guide let Emily and her brother swim off by themselves and they were able to share the same experiences of creatures they held and things they could see underwater,” said Emily’s dad, Steve. “Emily doesn’t talk about her transplant that much, but it’s one of those bonds the two of them have now that will tie them together for life.”
One of Emily’s favorite parts of the trip was seeing so many animals. During a white-water rafting excursion down the river, Emily and her family enjoyed spotting the creatures and the scenery specific to Costa Rica.
“If I had to describe my wish in one word, it would be magnificent,” Emily said. “My wish made me realize that the dreams I had before cancer were still possible, and it was the start to the rest of my future.”
Emily recently graduated high school and she plans to study nursing at New Mexico State University in the fall. “I picked nursing because I saw what the nurses did for me, and I want to do that for other people,” Emily said.