How generosity helped this six-year-old with cancer live out her dream of being a designer.
Macy's

Elizabeth and her design team

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First-grader Elizabeth is a fashionista. Her "passion" as she puts it, is designing dresses and she hopes to one day make it her career. When she was three years old, however, her future didn't look so clear.

Six days after her family had moved to Reno, Nevada, Elizabeth was diagnosed with leukemia. Her father was just starting a new job, their things were still in boxes and all of a sudden, their world was turned upside down. "We had no support network," says Elizabeth's mom. "And then we had a new diagnosis to make sense of. It took a while to find a new normal." That new normal included 26 months of cancer treatment.

The treatment was hard on Elizabeth and her family. Then came a major infusion of support and positivity from the nonprofit Make-A-Wish, an organization that grants the wishes of children battling critical illnesses. The hope of a wish was something Elizabeth really needed; at the end of 2019 when she learned her wish was coming true, she still had six months of treatment left.

Last November, Macy's celebrated with Elizabeth at her local Macy's store in Reno, NV and surprised her announcing that her wish to design a dress was coming true.

ElizabethAll photos courtesy of Macy's

"The middle of winter, drained from 20 plus months of treatment, it really gave us something special to look forward to," said Elizabeth's mom.


Together with Macy's, Make-A-Wish gave Elizabeth the chance to create her own, original dress design, with professional guidance from the experts at Macy's Fashion Office. "I got to work with the designers," says Elizabeth. "They were so nice and fashion forward. They helped me find ideas."

Elizabeth scoping fabrics

"She loved meeting with Durand and Suzanne of Macy's and was really inspired by them and their leadership," says Elizabeth's mom.

The Macy's fashion designers did most of the sketching, but Elizabeth gave them direction and picked the pattern for the fabric. The best part for her was seeing the finished product in person. "It has a flower pattern and fluttery sleeves and it has tiers. It is beautiful," she says. Since then, she's been sketching her own designs, and can't wait to create more dresses.

Elizabeth working on a design

"She had never really known how to do that before, and they even gifted her a few new dress sketching books and coloring pens to get her started," says Elizabeth's mom.

Make-A-Wish couldn't make wishes like Elizabeth's happen without the support of generous donors and longstanding partners, like Macy's. Since 2003, Macy's has helped Make-A-Wish fulfill over 15,500 wishes for children across the country by raising more than $132 million for the organization. A big part of that fundraising effort is the Macy's Believe Campaign; where anyone can write letters to Santa (primarily on the Macy's website this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, though Macy's is still accepting letters in-store at the red Believe letterboxes or safely at curbside), and for every letter submitted, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish up to $1 million.

Through 11/15, Macy's customers can also round up in-store purchases up to $0.99 and donate the change to Make-A-Wish.

Everyone has faced extraordinary challenges this year due to the pandemic, especially children with critical illnesses and their families. Aside from the added health concerns, these children are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and have had to isolate even more and avoid doing some of the things they love most. So, Make-A-Wish is perhaps more important than ever now because it can bring them hope and joy no matter the circumstances.

Elizabeth approving dress details

Elizabeth's dress is available for purchase online at Macys.com and in 12 physical Macy's stores and 20 percent of all sales through December 31 will go back to Make-A-Wish to help grant wishes like Elizabeth's. Elizabeth was also surprised with a billboard marking the occasion, and enjoyed a special event at Macy's Barton Creek Square store in Austin, Texas where her dress was showcased. But there's one gift that outlasts all the others: Elizabeth's reinvigorated confidence. Her mom says that even if Elizabeth doesn't become a dress designer, that confidence that she gained from her wish will last forever.

Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via 1POCNews / Twitter

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