Eight special children are the new face of Make-A- Wish® Netherlands. All of them have experienced what a life-threatening illness can do to you and what it means to have your favourite wish be granted.
Their wishes vary from racing in a monster truck to being a star in Holiday on Ice, and from being an astronaut to publishing your own book. One by one favourite wishes, realized by Make-A-Wish Netherlands. It makes these children aware of their inner strength. They were given perspective which is proven to have a long-lasting and positive effect.
Alexander (7) from Geleen
‘A tree house as hiding place for my secret club’
Yvonne, Alexander’s mother
“A wonderful little boy, easy, uncomplicated, social. Fortunately, his character has remained the same.”
The tree house plays an important role in almost every children’s adventure book. To Alexander, his dream became reality. In his own yard. On stilts. The next step is the tree house CLUB, obviously with strict admission requirements.
Having had two incessant nosebleeds, Alexander’s fight against acute lymphoblastic leukemia began. For two years, Alexander and his parents lived in a state of hope and fear; having check-up after check-up. Wondering whether to turn left or right.
Alexander himself – being three and four years old at the time – hardly changed. Of course he had his bad moments, but more often he raced on his tricycle, IV line and all, through the hospital corridors. “Fortunately, his character has remained the same. A wonderful little boy, easy, uncomplicated, social.”
Chanelfa (12) from Enschede
‘A survival day with friends who supported me during my illness’
Angelique, Chanelfa’s mother
“That wish brought beautiful closure to what has been. It brought us brightness and energy to begin the rest of our lives.”
Imagine this: you’re feeling fine but a routine check-up at school indicates you’re a bit small for your age. You’re advised to go to the hospital to see if perhaps a growth hormone is missing. For five days, you’re taking hormone pills in order to test this. While you’ve never been sick before, you’ll experience unbearable stomach pains during this period. Examining the cause of these pains, the doctors find a liver tumor.
This is how Chanelfa’s bizarre fluke story starts. Fortunately, after six months of surgery and chemotherapy, she receives a health certificate.
Soon thereafter her wish is granted. A day full of (survival) surprises. Without her parents, but with two friends, to celebrate the special memory of friendship having a positive effect on something negative.
Angelique, Chanelfa’s mother: “That is what Make-A-Wish Netherlands has meant to us. That wish brought beautiful closure to what has been. It brought us brightness and energy to begin the rest of our lives.”
Dave (7) from Rotterdam
‘Racing in a monster truck’
André, Dave’s father
“He was so full of confidence. For once, he could do something his peers couldn’t.”
Speed. There was no escaping for Dave’s wish-granters. In a Ferrari or some other speedy Formula-1 car. But it turned out to be a ride with and visit to colourful Monster Trucks. Dave loves the sound of roaring engines. The little Rotterdam-boy was even allowed to go to Germany with the high-speed train, accompanied by Irene Moors and a camera team for a TV-programme. This day gave him an enormous boost.
Dave suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, but he utilizes all the energy in his body. Classmate Christoffer: “Dave is so lucky, I wish I could have done that.”
That made Dave more confident. This time he could do something his peers couldn’t.
Jaleesa (18) from Roosendaal
‘Publishing my own book’
Arnold, Jaleesa’s father
“She said that the book has had such a large effect. It gave her strength to the second power. And I am proud to be her father.”
The granting of a favourite wish not only touches little children in their hearts. It has the same positive effect on the lives of teenagers. Jaleesa is the living proof of that.
When she first was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, she described her emotions in a diary. She wished for it to be published, and now she is a famous person in Brabant, a southern province in The Netherlands. Not in the least because Guus Meeuwis (another famous person from Brabant) handed her the first published copy, but also through her interviews with RTL’s Life & Cooking (live), Youth News, Cosmogirl and vrouw.nl.
Make-A-Wish Netherlands named her junior ambassador. Jaleesa: “The book has had such a large effect. It gave me strength to the second power.”
Jamie (8) from Dordrecht
‘Being a star in Holiday on Ice’
Jamie during her wish granting as she is allowed to peek behind the scenes prior to ‘Holiday on Ice’: “My friend and I had so much fun trying some of the costumes.”
Giggling: “And we tried all the hats.”
Already as a toddler, Jamie displayed a talent for figure skating, which is not so strange having a father who plays ice hockey and a mother being a high-level gymnast. It seemed a new ice star was born. Until the diagnosis lymphoblastic leukemia hit the entire family. Jamie bravely underwent the treatments. During the first months, she even continued her training.
Logically, her biggest wish was to be a guest at Holiday on Ice. She received a VIP-treatment and was even allowed to skate on the ice together with her friend Chayenne. Jamie warned her parents: “I am not going in a wheelchair.” Jamie’s father Wilco carried her to her special place of honor in the gallery and her friend supported her the rest of the day. Jamie kept straight up.
Juliëtte (6) from Huissen
‘Be a princess’
Angelique, Juliëtte’s mother: “She literally has changed. Until today, the effect is apparent.
If you look closely, Juliëtte is almost a lookalike of Queen Beatrix. During the Queen’s childhood years, of course. As a true Royal Highness amidst sword fighting knights and fair maidens, Juliëtte stole the hearts at Doorwerth Castle. It was a special wish granting, where neither cost nor effort nor court were spared to make (crown)Princess Juliëtte bloom, following a horrible time in which she had to fight leukemia.
This start of a new life cannot be more exuberant than the big steps the princess took in the castle. With arms up high: “I can do anything. I can even run. That has been a long time!”
To this date, Juliëtte blooms the moment she dresses up like a princess. The wish granting not only provided her strength, but she also re-found her self-confidence.
Niek (8) from Nunspeet
‘A trip by plane to Legoland’
Jacqueline, Niek’s mother
“Although he sat in a wheelchair, he got up every time to study the building structures in the mini city on his knees.”
Niek suffers from Cystic Fibrosis (also known as Mucoviscidosis), just like his two sisters. Jacqueline, Niek’s mother, was eight months pregnant with him when the oldest child was diagnosed with the illness. Of the three children, Niek has had to endure the most so far and he has the shortest life expectancy. He is aware of that: “Than I’ll be in heaven and I’ll never have CF again.”
In spite of it all, Niek regards the world with happy and mischievous eyes. As a toddler, Niek got to play with father Henri’s lego-box, and by now lego has turned into a passion, blessed as he is with an understanding of design and technology. Every so often, he fondly remembers his visit to Legoland in Billund, Denmark. “In the mini city I got up out of my wheelchair all the time, so I could study the building structures.”
Thomas (9) from Wateringen
‘Being an astronaut’
Magda, Thomas’ mother
“It’s hard to describe what it does to him, but I notice something is happening inside.”
If, from an early age, you’re looking at the moon every night, your favourite wish must have something to do with space. Thomas the astronaut hang weightlessly, tasted space-food and knows how to pee in space in a neatly manner. Amicably, he shook hands with astronaut Steven Smith at ESTEC in Noordwijk. Barely one year old, Thomas loses his right eye due to eye-cancer. His left eye can be saved through surgery. But today, Thomas the astronaut rises above himself. Playing outside with Bo, Jarrod en Mylêne is what he likes most. And he is the first to finish with arithmetic’s. “It’s hard to describe what it does to him, but I notice something is happening inside,” says mother Magda. Both at home and at school, Thomas is on the right track.