Lydia’s Sweet 16 party doubled as her wish granting party from Make-A-Wish of East Tennessee.
Lydia had applied to Make-A-Wish asking to go to Las Vegas.
“I just want to see it, experience it,” Lydia said during the party, commenting that it looks like a neat place to go.
Her dad Robert thought it was interesting that she at her age asked to go to Las Vegas.
Later she decided she wanted to go around Christmas. The family was in Vegas from Dec. 18 until Dec. 24, and stayed in the Paris Hotel.
Lydia beamed with excitement while wearing a glittering tiara during the party. The Cleveland YMCA’s teen room was decorated with neon green and hot pink balloons — Lydia’s two favorite colors — for the party.
Seeing a child beaming at their wish party “makes it worthwhile as a volunteer,” said Kelly Sullivan of Make-A -Wish of East Tennessee.
Friends and family helped Lydia celebrate while enjoying food from Chili’s of Cleveland and Fat Mike’s BBQ in Harrison. Lydia’s party also featured a Vegas-sign-styled cake and a raspberry frozen custard created just for her by Nana’s Frozen Custard in Hixson. Nana’s did not carry raspberry, but created the flavor especially for the party.
Top on her list of things to do in Las Vegas was see the city lights. Lydia saw the lights when she landed, when they took off to come home and during a special night helicopter tour of the city. Brink was also excited to visit the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop featured on The History Channel’s “Pawn Stars”
Make-A-Wish had a full itinerary planned, complete with spending money for the family. On Monday, the family saw a Rick Thomas tiger and magic show. On Wednesday, a limo picked the Brink family up and took them to the Hoover dam for a behind-the-scenes tour.
Kaye Reese handled the logistics of granting the wishes. She said she “makes the wish happen.” For this wish, Reese received help from Make-A-Wish in Nevada, which arranged most of itinerary.
Although the party may have been magical, it was not a surprise — Lydia found out a month before that she would be going to Vegas.
“I was excited,” Lydia said, commenting that initially she couldn’t be too excited because she was in the hospital preparing to have a procedure done.
After the hospital visit, the excitement really set in.
The Brink family started thinking about applying to have a wish granted for Lydia when a doctor gave them a notebook of resources with information about Make-A-Wish in it, according to Linda Brink, Lydia’s mom.
Lydia was diagnosed with T-cell Leukemia on June 23, 2009. She was able to have her first treatment the next day at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital. Lydia said she went into remission after her first treatment. However, she still had a long road of recovery.
In February 2010, volunteers from Make-A-Wish came to the Brink home to talk to Lydia and get more information about what she wanted. They also asked for a back-up wish. Linda said that when they came to talk to Lydia she was still very sick.
“She (Lydia) looks great right now,” Reese said at the party, commenting that Lydia’s hair had started to grow back since she had seen her at the Wish interview.
Make-A-Wish grants the biggest dreams of children living with life-threatening medical issues who are ages 3 to 17. The decision of which wishes to grant is made by the board of directors of each regional Make-A-Wish.