"That was a request I heard regularly out of Hayden’s mouth and it was getting harder to ignore, but I just didn’t think I could make it happen for her the way we needed it to happen. At almost 4, Hayden had been battling Leukemia since she was 22 months old. She had recently become obsessed with Paw Patrol and started begging for a puppy of her very own.
Her life had been turned upside down by cancer. No parks, no play places, no pools, no splash pads, no school, no playdates, no restaurants, no stores, really no place where she could pick up any potentially deadly germs. So when she started asking for something that her little heart just couldn’t let go of, I starting trying to figure out how I could make that happen for her, to give her something amazing in the midst of this big awful battle she was fighting.
I was aware of Make-A-Wish but really thought they just did Disney trips. I reluctantly started the paperwork and was almost certain that Hayden’s wish wouldn’t be granted.
To my surprise, I was meeting Hayden’s wish granters within a few weeks. Jenna and Lily were wonderful to work with and I could tell they really cared about Hayden’s wish and making it come true. I tried to tell her that they were going to try to work on what we called her “Big Wish” but there were no promises. She asked me every day, multiple times a day if her wish would ever come true. Then one day I got the call -- “We’ve got a puppy for you! He’ll be ready in a month!” Hayden’s Big Wish would be here sooner than I was ready for, but I was so excited. She deserved something that would make her heart happy.
Hayden is the baby of eight and the only one not in school, so her days are spent without a playmate. She’d taken up pretending she was a puppy (an activity she still does today) and would pretend she had her Rocky puppy to play with.
When the day of her big reveal arrived I told her we were going to a party at First Security Bank (who generously sponsored her wish). I wanted her to be surprised. We walked in and everyone yelled that her wish had been granted and she was in shock. It took her a minute to see the teeny puppy and realize what was happening.
I, of course, cried.
Here was this soft little ball of fluff that Hayden had been wishing for for so long. And the best part was it was something that would last and of her siblings could also enjoy. While Hayden has undoubtedly fought a very hard fight, her brothers and sisters have been along for the battle every step of the way. When one person gets cancer, the whole family fights. They haven’t really been able to do any of the things that Hayden couldn’t do, we all just stayed home and avoided germs as a team.
We brought Rocky home and he immediately blended right in with our family. He was so calm and gentle and quickly became Hayden’s best friend.
Rocky quickly grew from a teeny puff ball to a giant puppy almost the size of Hayden but he’s still so gentle and wonderful. He’s got a great sense for which kids in the house need an extra snuggle and he’s always following Hayden around and keeping an eye on her.
I love that Make-A-Wish not only made Hayden’s wish come true but they also made sure this wish was a perfect fit for our entire family. With seven other children I couldn’t even THINK about training a puppy or cleaning up all that FUR! Thankfully, they provided training, toys, leashes, food bowls, crates, treats, vet care, and food! They literally thought of everything. Make-A-Wish took care of every single detail, made everything stress-free and wonderful, and granted my baby’s wish. I’ll be forever grateful for them and all they do to bless families fighting critical illnesses."
Wish mom, Ann
Hayden and her puppy Rocky will be supporting other wish kids at this year’s Walk For Wishes® Northwest Arkansas.