Four little girls from Glendon wanted to make a difference. In the end, their dedication, creativity, and ambition changed the lives of an Edmonton family. The funds they raised for the Make-a-Wish Foundation sent Isabella Basaraba and her family to Disneyworld to meet her idol, Dora the Explorer, and on May 26, they came to Glendon to thank the girls, Glendon School and the community for the trip of a lifetime.
Earlier in the school year, Chelsea Wolosiewicz, Reece Ganser, and Trinity Marsh, with help from her younger sister Destiny, began raising money for Make-a-Wish, a small idea that inspired their parents, school, and community to come together to grant a wish to a child with a life-threatening condition. In the end, according to Glendon School principal Ken Pshyk, they raised enough money for three wishes.
What began with a few little girls became an avalanche of support as students and community members shaved their heads for the cause last November, held talent shows and silent auctions, and did everything they could to raise a final total of $27,177.58.
"It exceeded my expectations many times," said Ken Pshyk, Glendon School principal. He added that before shaving their heads, students had to call home first for permission.
"Not one parent said no. They all said if my child wishes to support this cause, by all means, let them do it."
"We've never gotten so much from a school," said Amber Woffindin, representative from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, who accompanied the Basaraba family on their trip to Glendon.
In the past, she has been impressed with the level of support the area has given the foundation.
"I'll find out a school is fundraising and I'll Google it and find out it's from this same area - it's amazing."
During a presentation at the school, she said, "We're so blessed to have all the support from Glendon and Bonnyville and this entire area. We just feel the love from northern Alberta for sure."
Charmaine Basaraba, Isabella's mother, spoke to the gathered students at the school about the trip to meet Dora, saying, "Isabella and Dora embraced for what seemed like forever and it seemed at that instance that her world became perfect, and it made me realize that dreams really do come true."
Isabella suffers from cerebral palsy and a blood disorder which requires her to undergo a plasma transfusion every four weeks.
"This is what we needed, to rekindle some of the hope we may have lost along the way," said Charmaine. "Our journey with Isabella hasn't always been easy, but it helps to know that there are people like you who want to make our days a little brighter."
On April 11, before coming to Glendon to express her thanks in person, Charmaine wrote a letter to Trinity, Chelsea, Reece, and the Glendon community. In it, she said, "When Isabella's days get rough and life seems a bit tougher, I hope to be able to remember these feelings to help us get through the hard times.
"All the hardships we have endured and the many tears we have shed faded in our minds as we saw pure joy in the eyes of our little girl. It became apparent at this very instant that wishes do come true."
Isabella stood with her mother while she spoke and then said, "I wish that God blesses you always."
She presented Chelsea, Reece, and Trinity with plaques, as well as one for the school, and the girls hugged.
In her letter, Charmaine said, "At such a tender age, Trinity, Chelsea, and Reece, you young ladies are truly exceptional. It was an honour that you adopted our wish and made a dream come true."
For a school, a community, and three little girls in particular, their hard work and dedication didn't just make Isabella's wish come true, but her mother's as well.