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.
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.
Moving 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.”
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.