SPRINGDALE -- It might be hard to imagine 6-year-old Emmery Antoine as anything other than the carefree little girl with bright, blue eyes and long, blonde hair who attended the annual Walk For Wishes Northwest Arkansas on Saturday at Arvest Ballpark.
Emmery of Bella Vista was diagnosed with stage three ovarian germ cell cancer when she was 2, a condition that took her spleen, compromised her immune system and led her to develop the rare disease of growing terraroma syndrome, said Ashley Antoine, Emmery's mother. The syndrome causes masses to develop for those who've experienced chemotherapy.
Ashley said Emmery still has some residual health issues she'll likely always have to be concerned about, but she's now cancer free and was feeling up to helping raise more than $112,000 at the walk in support of the midsouth chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
More than $1,100 of that total was raised by Team Emme, which consisted of Emmery's parents; her 4-year-old sister, Evelyn; her grandparents; and her great-grandparents, Ashley said.
The Antoines were just a few of the more than 600 participants at the event, which serves as the local chapter's largest annual fundraiser, said Raven Washabaugh, event volunteer and wish granter.
"It's important to attend events like this and get involved, because it's things like this walk and the funding and foundation of it all that really bring it full circle and allow us to grant these wishes for kids," she said.
The event featured a special breakfast for wish children, a one-mile walk inside of the ballpark, carnival-style games and visits from characters such as Sparky the Fire Dog, Washabaugh said. Money was raised at the event through sponsor donations, team fundraising and event sales, all of which will go toward helping grant wishes for children ages 2½ to 18 in the midsouth region.
To date, the walk has raised more than $412,000 to help grant wishes for area children, Washabaugh said. More than 300 wishes have been granted in the midsouth area since 2007, which includes Benton, Carroll, Boone, Washington, Madison and Newton counties.
There are 425 kids in the wish process across the midsouth, she said, 42 of whom are from Northwest Arkansas.
"Wish kids are typically kids who have or have had critical illnesses," Washabaugh said. "They're not terminal, or not always terminal."
Brayden Jones of Bella Vista was one of those wish kids more than a decade ago. Today, the 19-year-old said he's preparing to start his first job as a grocery store bagger and is looking toward the future.
There was a time when that future may have been harder to see, though.
"Brayden had just turned nine and a couple of weeks later was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and was really within days of not making it," said Lisa Jones, Brayden's mother. "He went through a 3½-year battle with chemo and radiation."
Make-A-Wish gave Brayden something to look forward to following his treatment, Lisa said.
"Having hope of something that he would never be able to do on his own gave him, on the darkest days, something to look forward to," she said.
Brayden received a trip to a Disney resort in Hawaii for his wish, which Lisa said was healing for the entire family.
"It was the calmest and most peaceful we've ever been," Lisa said. "We weren't talking about radiation or chemo pills or any of that. We were literally just soaking in joy and thankfulness and gratitude."
Friends, family members and co-workers participated on Team Brayden at the walk and helped raise $940 in support of other wish kids.
"It's an easy way to give back and help transform a child," Lisa said. "When their family has gone through so much, it is truly the world to them. It means everything."
Walk For Wishes Northwest Arkansas
More than $112,000 was raised to help grant wishes for Northwest Arkansas children at Walk for Wishes Northwest Arkansas Saturday.
The top fundraising teams for the event include:
• Jessica Lais: $9,021
• Kathryn Mclay: $5,950
• Steve Morrow: $3,434
• Jim Sliker: $3,100
• Jennifer Alderson: $2,025
• Walmart: $21,000
• Strong Like Hudson: $18,167
• NWA Regional Board: $8,565
• Allen’s Foods: $3,434
• Collin’s Racers: $2,010
• Walmart: $21,000
• Allen’s Food Market: $3,434
• Levi’s Lawn Care: $1,855
• A&E Towing & Auto Repair: $1,315
• United Tire & Lube: $1,000
Source: Staff report
NW News on 06/02/2019
Print Headline: Walk helps make wishes a reality