Avalynn's Little Wishes Story

Caitlin Chiang
Monday, August 13, 2018

“Little Wishes, Little Wishes is here for you,” sang music therapist Rebekah Martin, MT-BC, as she strummed her guitar and gently pushed open the patient room door. Child life specialists waving sparkly star wands followed, along with nurses Sarah Sisk, RN, and Little Wishes president Laura Euphrat, RN. The group was there to joyfully grant the little wish of a guitar to sweet and spunky 6-year-old Avalynn, an acute myeloid leukemia patient at our Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases.

Since 2003, Little Wishes has granted more than 11,000 wishes to chronically and critically ill children in hospitals across 12 states, hoping to ease discomfort and bring moments of joy. At Packard Children’s, Little Wishes partners with the Child Life team to grant “little wishes” of up to $150 per wish. All wishes are granted in-hospital and give a child something significant and happy to look forward to during their visits. Little Wishes has already sponsored more than 180 wishes, totaling more than $27,500, for patients at our Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center, and Avalynn’s is the first of many little wishes supporting hematology and oncology patients at the Bass Cancer Center. With the continued support of donors like you, Little Wishes hopes to continue to expand to support patients from all units at Packard Children’s.

Nurse Sarah, who ceremonially granted Avalynn’s first wish, is a pediatric cancer survivor and a former Little Wishes recipient herself. Sarah was just 11 years old when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began receiving treatment at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. During her time as a patient, Sarah received multiple wishes from the organization’s president, Laura.

“My family and I have never forgotten Little Wishes,” said Sarah. “Each wish was always delivered with love and was always such an uplifting part of my hospital stays.”

Inspired in part by her nurses, Sarah decided to pursue a career in nursing and is now a pediatric oncology nurse at Packard Children’s. Sarah is determined to bring the same Little Wishes happiness she felt as a patient to the children she cares for. 

“I can’t begin to describe what it felt like to deliver this wish,” said Sarah. “Having Laura by my side and seeing Avalynn’s face light up the room was truly a dream come true. Being able to see Little Wishes’ impact on my own patients now as a nurse is truly the best Little Wishes gift of all!” 

“We hope to bring as much happiness as possible to Packard Children’s patients,” said Laura. “I’ve witnessed first-hand the therapeutic effects these wishes have by lifting a child’s spirits and improving their overall outcomes. Little Wishes celebrates children’s passions. Instead of losing their identity to illness, Little Wishes helps patients to focus on something positive and what makes them special.”

Laura asked Avalynn what song she’d like to learn to play first on her new guitar.

“I’m going to learn how to play ‘Fight Song!’” said Avalynn. 

We look forward to hearing you perform, Avalynn! Thank you to Little Wishes and the Child Life team for always brightening our patients’ stays.

Interested in supporting patients by granting their wishes? Donate to the Little Wishes fundraising page and 100 percent of every dollar donated will directly fund a Packard Children’s patient’s wish!

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