Monday, February 11, 2008

Make a Wish and Scholarships

This is Chapter 7 in my history... the rest can be found by clicking on history at the right.

I graduated from Cottage Grove High School ahead of the game for most of my peers. I had decided to go to college at Western Oregon University, I had earned scholarships, and I knew that I wanted to be an elementary teacher, something that Western specialized in. I fought hard to earn money for school, knowing that my family's financial situation made it so that we could not afford to send me without help, but the only help we qualified for was big loans. I ended up earning a scholarship through my father's employer, a lumber mill, and also through Western Oregon's Diversity Scholar Program, a program that aims to give students with a different background a chance to go to school and raise awareness. The award was based on any type of diversity, not just racial, so I used my experiences of growing up as a CFer in my essay. I ended up earning 4 years of paid tuition, a dream come true.

But before I could pack my bags and move up to college, I had an opportunity to have another wish come true.... seeing Broadway.

From time to time when I was little, my parents would receive a call from the Make-a-Wish foundation that my name had been referred to them and if we wanted them to grant me a wish. My parents always declined, asking that they spend their money on families where the kid was sicker, dying, or were in worse financial shape. I was fairly healthy, had a normal life, and while we didn't have much extra, we always made it by. I agree with this decision. It's this selflessness that has enriched my life that I learned from them. When I was 17, the social worker at my CF clinic at Oregon Health and Sciences University asked if I had ever had a wish. My mom told her that I had been nominated in the past, but always declined to give it to those who needed it more. Wendy told us that while it was true that there were kids who were sicker, we had to deal with situations and hardships caused solely by my CF. She was going to nominate me again, and this time I was going to take it as I was about to become to old. Sure enough, the phone soon rang, the MAW foundation. This time we accepted the offer. Two wish granters came to the house to talk with me and find out what I really wanted. At first I held back, asking for maybe a computer for school, but after a little pushing, I reviled that I really wanted to go to NYC and see Broadway. After years of doing theatre, collecting soundtracks, and learning to play songs on my piano, I wanted to see it all live. MAW made it happen for us... the most amazing trip of my life.
My parents, sister Heidi, and I went to NYC in September 2000. Our hotel was in the center of Times Square and we had 6 days in the city. MAW arranged for us to get prime tickets to Cabaret, Chicago, and Swing. All were amazing. I was so happy to see Cabaret, as it was, and still is, one of or my favorite musicals. We also toured the city, getting a VIP trip to the top of the Empire State Building, the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and trips to all the top museums. We also got ourselves into see the Rosie O'Donnell show (who has a nephew with CF), Dave Letterman, and saw a taping of the Today Show. We never had a dull moment... and it was amazing.
I am forever grateful for that trip... one of my biggest dreams came true. I was going to college, I had graduated high school, I earned scholarships, and I had seen Broadway. So many of my goals were achieved in a short little window. I looked forward to college with great optimism... however, it soon proved to be the most difficult and challenging period of my life. Something that will probably take awhile to write about, so stay tuned.

P.S. - I will be posting a few pictures of the trip, but I need to make a trip to get them and scan them :)


Dancing65Roses said...

How exciting! I never got a wish, but I think my parents were able to make most of my wishes come true - and they still are, so I'm grateful. I'm really interested to hear about college - my college experience was awful. I wonder how other CFers do it.

Beverly said...

NYC is wonderful, isn't it. I'm so glad you got that opportunity. One weekend after school was out, threeof my friends and I flew up. In four days we saw four shows. Our feet hit the ground running and we never stopped. I've never gotten back, but I'd love to.

I was 50, not 17. LOL