Make-a-Wish Michigan Grants Livingston County Teen's Dream
Pinckney High School student Alexandra Dowty will spend her 16th birthday in Hawaii, meeting relatives for the first time.
On her 15th birthday, Pinckney High School sophomore Alexandra (Lexi) Dowty was diagnosed with non rhabdo soft tissuse sarcoma in her upper right thigh.
That week, she went from being a normal teenager to being unable to walk after having the cancer surgically removed.
"I was numb - it didn't take root in my brain that I could die," Lexi said. "They had to cut through muscle and nerve to get to it, so I don't have a lot of sensation in my upper thigh and when I got out of the hospital, I couldn't walk. I was so depressed. I wasn't able to run, walk or go anywhere with my friends."
Now - one year later - after hard work and physical therapy, she is almost fully recovered and leaving for Hawaii at the end of the week.
The Make-a-Wish Michigan, with headquarters in Brighton, has granted Lexi's wish to travel to Hawaii and meet her father's relatives for the first time. She will spend 10 days in Hawaii along with her parents and younger sister, Sophia.
"It's just always been one of those fantasy places that I wanted to visit one day and now I'm just so ecstatic," Lexi said.
Make-a-Wish makes dreams come true
Make-a-Wish granted about 400 wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions in Michigan last year. And they hope to increase that number to at least 420 wishes this year, according to Laura Brown, communications and public relations director.
"What it does, is it gives them something to look forward to because some of the wishes take between six to eight months," Brown said. "So the anticipation of the wish is sometimes as magical as the wish itself because they're coming in for treatments and the doctors say all of a sudden the kids aren't talking about their chemotherapy anymore, they're talking about their wish."
Lexi's friends and family gathered at the Brighton Cold Stone Creamery Tuesday night for an early Hawaiian-themed birthday celebration as Lexi prepares for her wish trip.
Cold Stone Creamery has an existing relationship with Make-a-Wish and holds an annual World's Largest Ice Cream Social in the fall to raise money for the organization.
Brighton Cold Stone Manager Krystal Lancaster said this is the first time the Brighton location has been approached to do something outside of the annual ice cream social, but they were more than willing to help out and host the party as well as provide an ice cream birthday cake.
The cancer has brought Lexi closer together with her mother, Helen Dowty.
"My mom is the most important person in my entire life," Lexi said. "She was my rock through the entire thing."
Dowty said she is more emotional now than she was during her daughter's diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
"I'm the kind of person that says, 'OK, what do we do next,' and makes a plan," Dowty said. "At the time, I just felt like I couldn't be scared. Random times it will hit me now and I start crying. But day to day, you have to do what you have to do."
"It's been amazing," Lexi said of everything she's accomplished. "I'm so proud of myself and everyone around me. It's hard to explain. I've made so much progress in just one year that I feel like I can do anything now."