In a glittering gown, Nashaly takes in the scene and can hardly believe it: this is her quinceañera!
At 12 years old, Nashaly was diagnosed with leukemia after pain from a leg injury wouldn’t cease. Her childhood activities gave way to a world of hospitals, doctors, and coping with difficult treatments. As time marched on, she daydreamed about her quinceañera, an important rite of passage, yet her illness made it feel like this fifteenth birthday celebration might have to wait.
Nashaly’s wish changed this. Her quinceañera began to take shape with help from Make-A-Wish volunteers and staff. Their focus on the details enabled Nashaly to put her energy toward her health. “Nashaly’s wish motivated her to stay strong,” says her mother, Silvana. “Her doctor had warned her that chemotherapy might make her sick and the party would have to be rescheduled, so she was determined to be healthy for it.”
The teen envisioned herself in a peach dress, the star of a celebration complete with a three-tiered cake and Parisian-themed decorations. True to her vision, after a beachside photo shoot, Nashaly arrived at the banquet hall in a bright peach gown and glistening tiara, making her entrance under a balloon arch to a room full of cheering loved ones. “I have lots of friends and family and I love being with them,” says Nashaly, who was in her element all night long.
After the changing of the shoes ceremony, symbolizing her transformation into a young woman, she and her father shared in a dance and the evening continued with more dancing, toasts, and memory-making for all.
Now, as Nashaly continues with chemotherapy, she has even greater joy in her heart to help her through. “Our daughter’s wish was a very positive influence on her. She anticipated it with so much excitement, and she loves sharing the story of it. She’s shown photos to everyone at the clinic and is just so happy.”
“We look forward to becoming Make-A-Wish volunteers to make wishes come true for other children, because Nashaly’s wish made us realize we want to help others. It was an experience like no other our family has ever had!"
Photos by Stephanie Bernaba