When Lauren was two years old, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Growing up with cystic fibrosis was hard for Lauren because it made her feel like she was different from other children. She used to try to get out of her twice a day, 45-minute-long treatments in hopes avoiding them entirely.
Another trial of her cystic fibrosis is that while Lauren looks like a completely healthy girl on the outside, people rarely realize that on the inside she is different and to what extent her treatments exist behind scenes.
When Lauren was little, she was introduced to Make-A-Wish. She waited until she was older to start the process of making her wish so she would have something to look forward to throughout treatments. It helped Lauren to always have a special event to look towards because it kept her motivated to stay on top of treatments and to stay positive.
Lauren loves the beach and the water more than anything, so she knew that her wish would have something to do with water. She also wanted her wish to be a memorable experience; she wanted to have a passport and travel somewhere she would never get to go again. After researching different tropical destinations, she decided her one true wish was to wish to go to Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas. This was the perfect wish for Lauren because it involved the water, the beach, and another one of her favorite things: water slides.
Throughout the trip, Lauren rode every waterslide but one, the Leap of Faith: a 60-foot almost-vertical drop slide from the top of the Mayan Temple that cuts through a clear acrylic tunnel submerged in a shark-filled lagoon. Lauren was too afraid to try the slide, but deep down, she knew that she wanted to conquer her fear before her family left the park. On the final day of her wish, she mustered up the courage and got in the long line take the leap. While waiting in line, Lauren’s confidence waivered in and out, and when she sat down at the slide she panicked, but a helpful push from her sister sent her sailing down the slide’s steep, long drop and through the shark tank! Lauren loved it and when it was over she immediately jumped in line to go again. Lauren’s mom said this experience taught Lauren that she could do something she’s afraid and to be brave.
Lauren and her family were grateful for the time that they got to spend together in Atlantis.
“While (Lauren’s) disease is hardest for her, it has been hard for us and changes the family too,” Lauren’s mom said. “(The wish experience) benefited the whole family and it was a time when we did not have to think about the little things, there was no stress, and we could relax and just enjoy being together.” Lauren’s mom also added that Make-A-Wish impacted her permanently because, explaining “the gratitude you feel when someone provides this for you, an opportunity to have such a stress-free time, makes you want to give back and contribute to help others.”