Nikki Bronner: Paying It Forward

Nikki Bronner, Wish Alum and Donor

Editor’s note: Nikki was a featured speaker at our Sept. 21st Sugarman Law Firm Wish Ball. The post below is her speech in written form.

At 16, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. As you can imagine, this was an extremely difficult time for me and my family. Every day was a new battle and we never knew what would happen next. Then, we received a call from Make-A-Wish Central New York. The team started making steps to interview me, asking “what would I wish for if I could have something right now.” That was a question I did not have an answer to. But, after some time, I had some brilliant ideas, if I do say so myself.June - Nikki

Unfortunately, after much work done by the Make-A-Wish team, it seemed my requested wish was not possible at the time because I was not able to travel. I gave up on the idea of any wish happening for me. However, almost 2 years later, I got the call again and I was overwhelmed with excitement… they had not forgotten about me! I officially became a wish child. I was now 18 years old, so my goals and drive had shifted. I was also finally in remission and although that would seem to be a blessing, it was also very scary. I spent two years being sick and I was now faced with adjusting to the everyday life I had been hoping for.

I went from a normal child, to a sick child, to an adult in warp speed. This transition became another battle, but it was one I was ready to face. Make-A-Wish helped me persevere through. My wish was to be independent and have my own apartment, so my family and I were sent in a limo on a shopping spree to furnish the living room of my first apartment! We even went to my favorite restaurant, Red Lobster, for its “all you can eat crab legs.” Not a typical wish—but one that changed my life. My family and I needed positivity and hope.

Since then, I have relapsed several times. I have had two bone marrow transplants, additional chemotherapy and more radiation. I have also had additional types of cancer and health problems, but I continue to fight. I have never forgotten my wish while being healthy or sick. I continuously racked my brain for how I could thank Make-A-Wish because nothing seemed like it would be enough. In 2012 I finally thought of the perfect fundraiser—a flash mob!

I was blessed that my family and I have owned a martial arts school for 20 years. Since I was a small child, this was the foundation of my life and I believe it contributed to the discipline, motivation, integrity and positive attitude that I now strive to live with. I knew I could use our family business to pull off the flash mob. I recruited my 17-year-old nephew, Dylan, to help me. I wanted to make an impact on his life by teaching him to give back, help others and make a difference through small acts of kindness.

Nikki as a kidMoving forward, we gathered our students, reached out to other schools, promoted the upcoming “martial arts flash mob” at the carousel center and began raising money to benefit Make-A-Wish Central New York. We had 70 participants who had practiced for months and the show was a hit! We met our goal and raised almost $8,000. The event was successful thanks to an army of friends, family and students who saw my passion and knew my story. I was finally able to give back, allowing me to go from “wish child” to “wish granter.”

Wish Kid Nikki (left) becomes wish sponso for Wish Kid Zachie

Months later, I met the family and child who as receiving a wish. The child’s mother and I looked at each other and were immediately speechless. Brenda and I went to middle school together, but we had not seen each other since. What were the odds? Then the moment came that I met Zachie, who changed my life forever. Brenda, John Miccalla and Zachie are now like family to me and my nephew. We continued a journey of friendship and my love for Zachie grew each day. I cannot express how much Make-A-Wish Central New York changed my life, my nephew’s life and all those around me.

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