When she was just four years old, Abriel became a cheerleader for the first time. From that day forward, cheering was Abriel’s passion and greatest joy.
At the age of 16, Abriel was diagnosed with bone cancer, which required a partial knee replacement. It was devastating, especially when she was told she would never cheer again.
But, Abriel could not see a life without cheering. So, when approached by Make-A-Wish® Arizona to have a wish granted, Abriel chose to do something she loved…
“I wish to meet the cheerleaders at the University of Hawaii.”
Why Hawaii? The University of Hawaii has one of the leading cheerleading teams in the country, having competed in the UCA Collegiate National Championships semifinals year after year. In addition, Abriel hopes to attend the University of Hawaii after graduation from Westwood High School in Mesa.
Just thinking about her wish put her in a better mood as she underwent chemotherapy.
Abriel’s mother April said, “When she was going through chemo, her wish gave her something to look forward to, to keep going and not to give up. The wish experience meant everything to me as well. Just seeing her excited about the wish, pushing on and looking forward to something meant a lot.”
This fall, Abriel traveled to Hawaii with her parents to visit the University of Hawaii. On her 18th birthday, Abriel met with the cheerleaders – her inspiration to keep working at making a full recovery – at one of their practices. She spent the day with the cheerleaders and was shocked to learn that she, too, was an inspiration to them!
In addition, Abriel toured the campus, attended a volleyball game and the homecoming football game. To fill out the trip, Abriel and her family visited Diamond Head State Park, went to a luau and explored several beaches. “My trip to Hawaii was more than I could ask for. It was the best time of my life and I wish I could repeat that week all over again. I had such a great time that a new word needs to be invented for how amazing it was. I definitely won’t ever forget that birthday and I don’t know how I will top it. Being able to meet the U of H cheer squad felt like a dream and sometimes I have to remind myself that it really happened! It was a mind-blowing experience,” Abriel said.
Abriel’s favorite part of her wish was seeing the cheerleaders in action at the University of Hawaii homecoming game – which was fitting as she had just been named Homecoming Queen the week before of Mesa’s Westwood High School.
And while her medical condition initially prohibited Abriel from cheering at all, during her senior year she has cheered for her school. Although she is not yet able to tumble or perform stunts, Abriel continues to work to achieve her next goal . . . to attend the University of Hawaii and cheer for the Warriors!