Sweet 16 party special for teen
Shayna Cahill had a typical reaction to her Sweet 16 birthday party Saturday at Catta Verdera.
She loved it.
“It was really fun. They had like an ice-cream bar and a rose ceremony where all the guys bought me a rose,” Shayna, a Lincoln High School 10th-grader said. “And there was dancing. A lot of my friends were there.”
And like others her age, Shayna looked forward to her special party for several years, in her case nine years.
But the Lincoln resident is not typical.
Saturday’s birthday party was organized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Shayna was diagnosed with leukemia last August.
“She was sparkling Saturday. This was her all-time wish, to hang out with her friends and have a special day with her friends,” said Make-A-Wish’s Tricia Litts, who coordinated the party. “Shayna has been in remission and the party helped her heal. It was something exciting to look forward to, with all the negative things these kids endure in and out of the hospital. This is something exciting they can share with their friends and families.”
Litts added that Shayna’s face “was lit up” the entire night.
Shayna’s mother, Derlyn Cahill, was just as excited about the Sweet 16 party.
“She is an amazing girl. Despite this disease, it’s not getting her down,” said Derlyn Cahill.
And on Saturday, Shayna was a regular teenager, celebrating her Sweet 16 birthday with her family and 40 friends.
“Shayna had a ball. She enjoyed everything. She was on the dance floor, having a good time. It’s something she’ll never forget and none of us will ever forget,” said her father, Pete Cahill.
The birthday party included a limousine ride for Shayna and 12 friends to Catta Verdera Country Club, where Shayna was immediately treated like a celebrity walking between red velvet ropes, a dinner buffet, dessert bar, dancing and a photo booth.
“I want to thank everyone from Make a Wish, the deejay (Cedric Freeman from Jukebox Music who donated his time) and my friend’s mom, Shannon (Cokato), who made a three-layer cake and decorated it for me,” Shayna said Monday.
Her parents were also very happy with Make-A-Wish and Catta Verdera, who they said worked hard to ensure that Shayna’s party ran smoothly.
“We want Make-A-Wish to know how grateful we are for doing such amazing things to kids with life-threatening diseases,” Derlyn Cahill added, “and also at the same time to let people know that there is this great organization to donate to if they can.”
Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit organization
Shayna is one of 250 children with a life-threatening medical condition between the ages of 2 ½ and 18 whose wishes are granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Sacramento and Northeastern California, said Make a Wish’s wish director Joanie Johnston.
Formed in 1983, the Sacramento-based chapter serves 24 counties from Modesto to the Oregon border.
“Within the past 12 months, we have granted wishes to 11 children from the Lincoln area,” Johnston said. “Currently, we are working on three pending wishes for additional Lincoln children.”
Children are referred to the national nonprofit organization by parents/legal guardians, physicians, nurses, child-life specialists, social workers, other healthcare professionals directly involved with the child’s care, and sometimes the child themselves.
The children can ask for a product (i.e. computer), trip (i.e. to the beach), event (i.e. party) or activity (i.e. singing on stage), according to Make-A-Wish staff. Make-A-Wish services are free.
“We rely completely on public and community and private donations. We get no government funding, just corporate and private support,” Johnston said.
While Johnston knows it’s not an easy time to rely solely on donations, she is confident that Make-A-Wish will continue to help children.
“We are not immune to the economy. It’s a challenge to fundraise in these economic times. But we’re standing strong. We have great volunteers,” Johnston said.
To donate to Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Sacramento and Northeastern California, call 437-0206. Or mail donations to Make-A-Wish Foundation at 3841 North Freeway Blvd., Suite 185 in Sacramento.