For 14-year old Emily, life has been full of hurdles. In the fourth grade, Emily was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a rare heart condition that results in her heart muscles becoming enlarged and making it difficult to pump blood, causing life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms. With fewer than 200,000 people diagnosed with this illness annually, there is no cure.
“It’s just the journey I have,” said Emily.
To add to Emily’s difficult journey, a series of earthquakes in July rattled their town of Ridgecrest and, ultimately, left Emily’s family home damaged and unsafe to live in. But as Emily reminded us, “It’s the memories that make the home.” With the amazing support of loved ones, Emily’s family was able to temporarily relocate while they work to rebuild.
Now more than ever, Emily was in need of a wish; a turning point.
That’s when Make-A-Wish walked into Emily’s life; to give her hope for her future, strength in her spirit, and joy in the endless possibilities of what her one true wish could be.
A routine doctor’s visit turned into the beginning of a magical journey for her. When Emily's wish granter sat down with her and asked what her one true wish would be, she was initially hesitant. But with some emotional support and encouragement from a nurse by her side, Emily knew exactly what she would wish for.
“I wish to have a Quarter Horse,” said Emily.
“I like horses because they’re gentle, smart, pretty. All sorts of personalities and colors.”
From there, the wish fairies began their journey in finding the perfect horse that would be gentle, smart and pretty, just like her. The saying, “it takes a village” rang tried and true in Emily’s wish journey.
Our very own COO, Debbie Hurst, who is heavily involved in the equestrian community, made it her mission to find a Quarter Horse that Emily would love. Simultaneously, it was the support of Emily’s grandma and neighbors that assisted in preparing the property for the horse’s homecoming.
And it would be former Make-A-Wish board member Megan Vincent of Pacific Coast Building Products who would adopt Emily's wish. An avid horse lover herself, Megan was inspired by Emily's attitude and was excited to help out in anyway she could.
Coming together to make the surprise even more special was Riding Warehouse who supplied Emily tack and equipment, Elk Grove Milling who donated horse feed, The Murieta Inn and Spa who provided Emily and her family their accommodations, Big Bay City for sponsoring the horse's transportation, West Palms Events who donated $1,000 towards a custom saddle and the Murieta Equestrian Center and West Coast Equine Foundation for providing $1,000 worth of lessons and training!
Then, it was time to plan for the big reveal!
The surprise would go down at the Sacramento International Horse Show at the Murieta Equestrian Center. The international event attracts equestrians from all over the world, and would serve as a perfect setting to surprise Emily.
Getting her up to Rancho Murietta from Kern County without her knowing was going to be a challenge, so her family decided to plan a much needed family vacation to visit the horse show. It worked beautifully as Emily had absolutely no idea her wish was about to be granted.
While it was an emotional moment for the applauding crowd, it was the shy, sweet little girl in the center of the arena that showed her own moment of emotion. There stood a smiling, tearful girl whose eyes filled with joy as she looked up at her new companion, Maidu.
"This makes me really happy to see her happy, said Emily’s mom. “It’s amazing. She’s an amazing kid.”
It’s no secret that wishes are a transformational experience for wish kids, their families and even for complete strangers. For Emily and Maidu, their journey together may just be beginning, but together, the memories they make will define what home truly means.
You have the power to help make a child’s life-changing wish come true, just like Emily’s! No matter how big or small, each contribution of time or money goes a long way into granting wishes for critically ill children in our community. Learn the ways that you can contribute your generosity by visiting our Ways To Help page.