Dream trip to Disney World for Ashtyn
She's going to Disney World.
After about a year of battling for her life and another year and a half of good, hard recovery, Roosevelt fourth-grader Ashtyn Carrier got her wish -- her Make a Wish.
"I'm so excited," said a normally talkative Ashtyn, stunned into silence as she unknowingly was brought into the school gym along with her entire fourth grade class at Roosevelt Elementary School.
Nobody knew what was up until they saw a lady in a blue Make a Wish t-shirt walk in, followed by Ashtyn's mom, dad, sister and two brothers.
"When I saw them come in, I knew," said Ashtyn, who had made her wish a while back.
Ashtyn suffered from a rare, life-threatening disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH. It's essentially where a person's white blood cells, typically meant to fight common sicknesses, continue to go on the attack even after illnesses are gone -- and internal organs are what are attacked. It's rare, but it is oftentimes deadly.
The Carriers talked about putting in a request to Make a Wish during the height of Ashtyn's illness, as Make a Wish grants wishes to children between the ages of two and a half and 18 to those with life-threatening illnesses, but at that time she was far too sick to go anywhere.
Even once she got back and was in recovery mode, the first few months were still scary for the Carriers, who didn't want to expose Ashtyn and her new, baby immune system to unnecessary germs.
But as she got stronger, the Carriers say Ashtyn's healthcare providers encouraged them to finally put in for the wish.
"They were like, 'she should get this -- she deserves this,'" said Ashtyn's father, Matt, who then finally contacted Make a Wish.
Ashtyn was approved within a week.
"I just remember everything she went through," said Ashtyn's mom, Kelly, as she tearfully watched her daughter's wish being granted.
The entire Carrier family went through that nightmare with Ashtyn, as they moved to Cincinnati where Ashtyn could receive the specialized treatment that would save her life -- including a bone marrow transplant.
Throughout her time at the hospital, Ashtyn made other friends there with the same, rare disease -- and not all of them would make it.
But Ashtyn did, and today she is healthy and full of energy as her body continues to build up its own immunity.
She continues to get monthly treatments that help that building process, but will eventually begin spacing those out further apart as well.
Now the excited fourth-grader can think less of the disease that consumed her and her family for a period of time and begin thinking about Disney World.
The family will be heading out Feb. 3 for the all-expenses-paid trip to Florida, a trip her brothers say wouldn't have been their first pick.
"I probably would have wanted go see Paul Bunyan," said first-grader Mason, as second-grader Ethan added, "I would've picked Thumper Pond."
But they say with noticeably excited smiles, Disney World will do.
The family will stay at a hotel just for Make a Wish children called Give Kids the World Village.
But once the paid trip is over, the Carriers will then use their own money to extend their stay, as their plan is to meet another little girl down in Orlando with HLH -- a little girl Ashtyn has never met, but has corresponded with throughout her own battle.
Mother Kelly says just because her child is healthy again, doesn't mean it'll ever truly be over.
"There's always going to be fundraisers or donating blood ... it will never end for us now, because we're always going to want to do something," she said.
And just as the family is granted Ashtyn's wish, her parent's also got something they wanted. They were just granted permission from Ashtyn's anonymous, life-saving bone marrow donor to find out who he is to contact him.
"He is from Germany, and he turns 27 years old on Halloween," said Kelly, who says she hasn't been able to figure out exactly how she wants to contact him yet.
"I just want it to be perfect," she said, "I lay in bed and wonder how I can begin writing to him ... how do I even start something like that?"
The Carriers might have been through some dark, scary times, but they came through the other side knowing not only how truly lucky they are, but that wishes really can come true.