Tea with Rapunzel

Her name is Fabiana. She is seven years old. She has a life threatening disease. She had a dream, and it just came true.

Look, I’m a princess. Photo: Lisbeth Ganer

Fabiana adores Rapunzel, you know the princess with the extremely long hair. Having tea with Rapunzel, she thought, now that would be something. I’d be a princess too.

Enter Make-A-Wish, an international organization granting the wishes of children aged 3 – 18 with life-threatening medical conditions. Their philosophy is quite simple: Granting a wish gives these children and their families what they perhaps need the most; hope, strength and joy.

Since Make-A-Wish started in the USA in 1980, about 300 000 dreams have come true for children in nearly 50 countries, thanks to more than 30 000 volunteers. Since October 2012, Luxembourg is one of those countries.

To Jim Fielding, chairman of Make-A-Wish Foundation International, expanding the organization’s global reach is important: “We are dedicated to making every eligible child’s wish come true – impacting thelives of even more children, families and communities throughout the world. Our continued growth is the key to achieving our vision.”

The Make-A-Wish Luxembourg team, with Marcel Hagendoorn as co-founder and president, shares this dedication, hoping to demonstrate the same level of commitment and energy to help all the children of Luxembourg who need it.

Marcel Hagendoorn and Make-a-Wish volunteers on Fabiana’s big day. Photo: Lisbeth Ganer

Royal treatment

The children typically wish to be (a police officer), to meet (Justin Bieber), to have (a kitten) or to go (on holiday). Fabiana was the first wish child of Make-A-Wish Luxembourg. Her wish has been prepared since November 2012, when Fabiana’s friend Sylvie, who works with the SAMU in Luxembourg, referred her as a potential wish child.

Complicity. Mother and daughter. Fabiana and her friend Sylvie. Fabiana and her hairdresser. Photos: Lisbeth Ganer

Fabiana has suffered from the Guillain- Barré syndrome since she was two years old, a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. She is in a wheelchair as she is tetra paraplegic, and she is frequently admitted to the emergency unit of the Kannerklinik (children’s hospital) due to regressions in her medical condition, which is also why the granting of her wish had to wait until Fabiana was well enough to travel to Disneyland in Paris.

Ready for a dream to come true. Photos: Lisbeth Ganer

Last week, she was ready to have tea with Rapunzel. Make-A-Wish volunteers made sure she travelled in style, giving her a full princess make-over, rolling out the red carpet, showering her with petals and seeing her and her family off with banners and balloons. Upon arrival, a dinner with friends from the world of Disney awaited her. The next day, after a royal lunch with princes and princesses, the Fairy Godmother gave her a Rapunzel dress and she finally had her dream come true.

Finally meeting Rapunzel. Cinderella was there too. Photos: Sylvie’s husband Toni

Make-A-Wish France helped give Fabiana this royal treatment and grant her wish, a cooperation made possible by the global reach of the organization.

“The family came home exhausted, but very happy and full of energy. They had never seen Fabiana smile so much”, says Marcel Hagendoorn.

Which is exactly what Make-A-Wish is there for.

Home again and happy. Photos: Lisbeth Ganer

Go here for more information on Make-A-Wish, and how to donate, become a volunteer or refer a child.

By Unni Holtedahl, June 2013