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Make a Wish party makes kids' Christmas bright

December 03, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Make A Wish child Kathryn Chenaille, 11, of Chambersburg, Pa., and her brothers Dylan, 6, and Jonathan, 9, try to firm up their Christmas lists with Santa and Mrs. Claus during Saturday's Make A Wish Christmas Party at the Knights of Columbus in Chambersburg.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Three years ago, aplastic anemia robbed Kathryn Chenaille of living the life of a normal kid.

But on Saturday during the Make A Wish Christmas Party, Kathryn, 11, looked the picture of health as she ripped the wrapping paper off gifts that Santa gave her and her brothers Jonathan, 9, and Dylan, 6.

"The kids really enjoy this party. It's also a good reminder for us of what we went through and now Kathryn is in complete health compared to where she was three years a go. She was very, very sick," said Carolyn Chenaille, Kathryn's mother.

After dealing with weekly blood transfusions and high dose chemotherapy to wipe out her immune system, Carolyn said family events take on a much deeper meaning.

"It drastically changes your life when you have a sick kid and Make A Wish makes not just the wish kid, but all the kids in the family, feel incredibly special and helps them — for a time period — forget what's going on," Carolyn said.

During the summer of 2009, Kathryn was granted her wish from Make A Wish — an above ground pool for the family.

Kathryn is now in remission and loves to swim and just run around and be a normal kid.

About 100 people attended the annual Make A Wish Christmas party on Saturday at the Knights of Columbus in Chambersburg.

Make A Wish in Franklin County grants wishes to children, older than two and a half and younger than 18, with life-threatening medical conditions. Children must be determined to be medically eligible for a wish by their physician.

Every year, Make A Wish grants the wishes of 10 to 15 children in Franklin County. It costs approximately $3,900 per wish, according to Ann Waltman, regional manager of Make A Wish.

Wish children and their families were treated to lunch followed by some entertainment and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

There's only one Christmas gift that Kim Hernandez of Chambersburg wants this year, but it can't be bought in a store.

"The only gift I want is for my son (Wily Hernandez) to be better," Hernandez said.

In June, Wily suffered a seizure. Tests revealed a brain tumor, which was surgically removed.

"Everything went well until the beginning of October, when he started having daily seizures," Hernandez said.

The Chambersburg woman is hoping and praying that the new medication that has kept her 15-year-old son seizure-free for four days will continue working.

Thanks to the generosity of a Shippensburg group, Wily's dream of seeing one of his favorite soccer stars in person could soon be a reality.

Ship Wish Ride donated $3,400 to grant Wily's wish, plus the group made its annual $500 donation to Make A Wish.

Ellen Palmer, Franklin County liaison for Make A Wish, has volunteered with the organization for 21 years. She has seen the powerful effects of granting wishes.

"I've been doing this long enough that I have seen kids get their wish, and go into remissions from cancers. When Caleb Horst met Kobe Bryant, his mother said it was the first time he'd smiled in five years," Palmer said.

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