Complete with a police escorted limo ride, 14-year-old Make-A-Wish child Julia and her family arrived at Macy's in West Hartford today. There she was paraded around, showered with gifts and treated like a rock star.
That though was not her “wish” but rather a party to celebrate it being granted.
Julia, who lives in Wethersfield, left her homeland of Ghana when she was just 3. Two years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and is now in remission.
Her wish is to return to Ghana to see her entire extended family. That wish was granted in January when NBC Connecticut’s Kerri Lee Mayland and Kevin Nathan surprised her with the news in January during the Miles for Smiles campaign.
That trip will become reality this weekend but first was Wednesday’s big sendoff.
“I was surprised,” she said. “Like a lot of people that I know and a lot of people I didn’t expect to be here were here.”
Among those surprising her today were many of her Wethersfield High School classmates who joined more than 50 Macy’s employees for the surprise gathering.
Julia is among five people representing Macy’s national “Believe” letter-writing campaign. People are asked to write letters to Santa and for every letter dropped in a special Macy’s mailboxes, the company donates $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. Julia sent her letter today.
“It helps raise money for other children’s wishes,” she said. “It’s a really good campaign and I do believe it makes a difference.”
Julia is looking forward to her trip, a two-week journey with her five siblings and parents, to a place she fondly remembers.
“I really remember how close we all felt,” she said. “It really felt like a real family. Just a really big close family.”
Julia leaves for her trip Sunday. She said she hasn’t packed yet, which might not be a bad thing considering, Macy’s gave her a whole new set of designer luggage today.