While trying to decide what she wanted her wish to be, she spent a lot of time thinking that she didn’t need a wish or deserve a wish because she was fine and had a positive outlook after her diagnosis and treatment. Make-A-Wish staff and volunteers reiterated that children with a life-threatening medical condition were eligible for a wish and that her diagnosis made her eligible for a wish. After having her wish come true and experiencing the power of a wish, Jenna knew she wanted to pay it forward someday.
Jenna was diagnosed at age 14, she was a freshman in high school, involved in sports and a straight-A student. The diagnosis was life changing and ultimately it saved her life. Unfortunately it meant she could no longer be involved in contact sports like basketball and baseball but it also meant that Jenna could treat the problem. At the time of her diagnosis, she said, “I’m grateful I found out early. I’ll get to live longer.”
Jenna chose to treat her condition by having a defibrillator implanted to regulate her heart’s rhythm. Her defibrillator is still with her today; as are the fond memories created during her wish.
Now, at age 30, looking back on her wish, Jenna remembers having a tough time deciding on what she wanted her wish to be. She said, “I was one of those kids who couldn’t make a decision.” She remembers having the volunteer wish granters make several visits to her home before she was able to decide.
Once on her wish experience in Hawaii with her mom, dad, and younger sister she said the highlight of the trip was the helicopter tour they went on. She also remembers jet skiing in the ocean, receiving leis and attending a luau. Her family said that there were so many high points of the wish but the best part for the family was seeing Jenna totally relaxed and enjoying herself one day at a time rather than worrying about what the future holds.
A wish is a powerful thing.
Jenna said her wish made a real difference in her life. She learned more about Make-A-Wish and how wishes aren’t only for children with a terminal illness. Something she said people don’t necessarily understand, even today. Since her wish, Jenna has gone on to become a Make-A-Wish volunteer and does wish granting and other volunteer activities at the Minnesota chapter. Her mom, Karla was also moved to get involved with the organization and currently serves on our chapter’s board of directors.
Today, Jenna is doing great and her condition is controlled with the defibrillator. She still stays away from contact sports but she’s active in other ways such as playing golf, participating in a spinning class and running.
Looking forward to the future, Jenna is getting married this weekend and looking at having children in the future. After childbirth is a high risk time for a woman with long QT syndrome but with her defibrillator in place, Jenna feels confident knowing she’s safe.
As Jenna and her fiancé, Peter began planning their wedding, Jenna thought more and more about paying it forward and giving back to make another child’s wish come true. With that idea in mind, Jenna and Peter are asking their wedding guests to contribute to Make-A-Wish instead of purchasing wedding gifts. Feedback from family and friends has been very positive and encouraging. Jenna hopes to be able to grant a wish through their wedding. For Jenna, knowing that her and Peter can help make a wish come true for another child is inspiring.
Jenna’s story is one that shows just how meaningful a wish come true can be for the whole family. And she is a great example of wish kids who go on to live long, healthy lives after their wish.
We wish you all the best in your future, Jenna and congratulations to you and Peter!