By Dena Tadros, Wish Sibling, YPAC Events and Marketing Chair
As the oldest of four children, I have always been taught to be responsible and watch over my siblings in the best way that I knew how. Whether it meant helping out with homework or fixing an after-school snack, I in a sense became a second mother to them growing up. To this day, I know that my brother and sisters are not afraid to call or text for advice on new careers they want to explore, how they should set up their resume, or even what to wear on a date! One of the greatest feelings in the world to me is knowing that my siblings value the life experiences I share with them and that in some way, shape or form, they’ve followed my advice and succeeded in their own paths.
I believe that the truest testament of my family becoming stronger and overcoming a challenge came about when my sister, the second eldest sibling, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at the age of 12. The entire ordeal of how we arrived from the moment of diagnosis to the need for chemotherapy and treatment occurred as a whirlwind and it was exceptionally difficult to understand anything that my sister was experiencing at the time. The questions kept coming. Why did this happen to her? What could be done to make her feel better?
At age 15, the trials and tribulations of adolescence are monstrous in their own right. I had my studies and extra-curricular activities, and even a part-time job that took up most of my time. As the months passed and the hospital visits increased, I soon became aware that I had to be strong for the people I cared for most. And it was when I was left at home with my younger brother and sister that I realized I had a part to play, not only as a daughter and older sister, but as a caregiver. I truly believe that my can-do and go-to attitude and work ethic is directly attributable to what I felt I had to do to support my family.
Throughout my sister’s treatment, I admired her for having the ability to keep it all together. We always joked around and she made us laugh constantly; a gift that she has not let go of to this day. One of the fondest moments I have of her time in the hospital was when our middle school art teacher came to visit and brought my sister some sketch pads and art supplies. What may have been a simple gesture to my teacher was nothing short of a happy blessing to my sister. Art soon became her passion and her talent and eye for all things, light and dark, sad and beautiful; it was all there for her to capture. Now at age 28, my sister has been in remission for several years and still happily harbors her love for art by opening her own graphic design firm in downtown Los Angeles. We are all very proud of how successful and steadfast she is in life.
I cannot recall at what point my family became acquainted with Make-A-Wish, but being introduced to such an amazing, heart-warming group of individuals made us feel that we weren’t so alone. After she was deemed eligible, it was time to decide what it really was that my sister wished for most in the world. Thoughts about possibly meeting her favorite pop-star – Britney Spears – surfaced, but in the end she knew that it felt more right to have her family be a part of her wish. And so it was agreed upon that our family would travel to Disney World for a couple weeks of pure entertainment, relaxation, and most importantly, being together as one unit. We met so many characters and enjoyed everything the parks had to offer. It seemed that for a short while, we didn’t think about doctor appointments and who would give my siblings a ride to school. This mini-vacation was a wonderful gift to us and a memory we will always cherish.
It was not until I recently became involved in supporting the community through my current employer that I would cross paths with Make-A-Wish again. Under the guidance of my supervisor, I was asked to help support the co-sponsorship of a wish child, which ultimately was a young girl who wanted to go to Disney World with her family. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to lead the effort and all of our hard work in fundraising and coming up with ways to garner support for this wish child paid off. Through the co-sponsorship, we had raised enough funds to make her wish come true. The feelings of pride and accomplishment convinced me that I had the potential to do more for the organization and encourage others to become as passionate and enthusiastic about helping out as I was.
Not long after the sponsorship, I was invited to become a member of the Young Professionals Advisory Council, where a select group of working young adults can devote time outside of hectic schedules to be a part of something truly wonderful for Make-A-Wish. Joining YPAC has enriched my life, both professionally and personally and I am ever so grateful that I can support Make-A-Wish in the same manner that they did for my family so many years ago.
Thank you to the staff of Make-A-Wish Central New York and YPAC for everything you do!