When my co-volunteer and I met Marri in early 2013, she was a typical 15-year-old girl who loved being with her friends and shopping. Two of her biggest passions in life at the time were listening to her favorite singer and swimming, although she had to take a break from swimming while undergoing treatment.
After our first meeting, she had narrowed her wish down to either swimming in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia or meeting her favorite pop star. We knew the wait to meet him would be long, so we put her on the waiting list while she decided. After a few months, we found out that she had completed her treatments. She could now focus on her wish! We wanted bring a smile to her face and encourage her to think about her wish, so we made this video for her; the video incorporates some of her favorite things (her favorite food are bagels, her favorite restaurant is Gorditos, and her favorite athlete is hometown hero and competitive swimmer Nathan Adrian) and a few inside jokes.
Later that spring, we got word that as Marri was #63 on her favorite pop star’s waiting list, she would likely have to wait an additional 12-18 months to meet the superstar. That helped her make her decision. She decided she didn’t want to wait that long and officially chose to swim in the Great Barrier Reef for her wish!
This was Marri’s letter to our Board of Trustees:
For my wish, I would like to travel to Australia. I love to travel internationally. I have been to four continents and would love to add another to my list. I love beaches and swimming and have always dreamed of swimming and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. Other things that I'd like to see in Australia are Sydney including the Opera House and climbing the Harbor Bridge. I would also like to see a kiwi, kangaroo and koala bear. I really like to swim, hike and shop. I want the experience to be relaxing, fun, calm, and wet (swimming not raining). These are the times I'm available to go: Thanksgiving (2013), New Year's, mid-winter break, Feb. 15-23 or spring break, April 12-20. I would like to go when the weather is the best. What makes me smile the most is the water, vacations, adventure and food. I really like to swim, hike and shop. All of my family has been out of the country. I have been to Canada, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, France, China and Thailand.
Thanks you so much for what you do. You make so many kids happy, including me. Make-A-Wish has helped me get through cancer.
We worked with Jessie Elenbaas, Marri’s wish manager, to make as much of this happen for Marri as possible. She was scheduled to leave for her adventures Down Under on Feb. 14, 2014.
In January, we asked Marri where she wanted to have her wish presentation so we could present her with her travel documents and some goodies we picked up for her and her brother. We assumed it would be at Gordito’s or Veggie Grill, her two favorite restaurants. Imagine our surprise when she decided she wanted to have it at the Outback Steakhouse! It took us a few minutes to get it, but we soon realized what a sense of humor Marri had. Her wish presentation took place on Feb. 8, 2014, one week after the Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl, so the entire city was still on a football high!
Her grandmother joined us for the wish presentation as she was also very influential in helping Marri choose her wish. She had visited Australia before and brought along a photo album of pictures she took while snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. We could instantly understand why Marri had chosen to swim in the Great Barrier Reef for her wish.
Marri had an amazing time in Australia. When we welcomed her home she was excited to tell us that she got to see koalas, she was bitten by a wallaby, she ate Tim Tams, she was allowed to be an extra on an episode of Modern Family (which was filming a special episode in Australia at that time) and most importantly, she got to swim in the Great Barrier Reef. It was a dream come true for her.
Today, Marri is enjoying her summer job as a lifeguard and preparing for her senior year of high school. “She had her two-year end of treatment appointment in May and everything looked great so she is now a survivor. Now she's on to looking at where to apply to college. She, of course, wants to go somewhere warm and sunny by the ocean,” her mom Lara told us.