Emma's dream wish comes true
Emma Taylor's wish is coming true as she leaves for Los Angeles to meet her friend for the first time.
The 14-year-old from Wakefield flies to America for eight days thanks to Make-A-Wish New Zealand.
Emma has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects organs in the body, most commonly the lungs, by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus.
One of two her suitcases, which weighed in at 19 kilograms, is just for the medication and equipment she will need to stay well.
Most of it is consumables though, antibiotics, nebulisers, syringes and needles, so she's hoping it will be 90 per cent empty and packed with new purchases on her return.
In May, her mother Angela wrote to Make-A-Wish in the hope they would help Emma's dream come true.
Make-A-Wish New Zealand grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Emma's wish was to go to California to meet her penpal Abby Fletcher and have their birthdays together.
While she won't be celebrating their birthdays, which are in July, Emma said she can't wait to meet Abby.
Abby's mother writes a "homeschool blog" and one day she was looking for a penpal for her younger daughter when Mrs Taylor suggested the older daughter might like to write to Emma. "We wrote a couple of emails, then we realised we both had Skype, so we started doing that every couple of weeks, then it got more and more," Emma said.
That was two years ago, and Mrs Taylor said the girls have become best friends, who have never meet.
"They Skype two or three times a week. But the reality of them getting to physically touch each other - it's unreal."
When Emma found out that Make-A-Wish said yes, she said she couldn't believe it.
"They don't usually send you past Australia, because of travel insurance, but they said if we could get it, then I could go."
She had jumped up and down and there was lots of yelling when they got the confirmation, and she couldn't wait to Skype Abby and tell her, Mrs Taylor said.
Emma's older sister Johanna died from cystic fibrosis eight years ago.
Emma's only plane trips before this have been to and from Auckland to visit Starship Hospital.
The past six weeks have been a major effort by Nelson and Auckland hospitals to make sure Emma is well enough to travel, Mrs Taylor said.
Emma said the thing she was looking forward to most about the trip was meeting Abby.
"I've heard the In-N-Out burgers [a fast food restaurant] are pretty good too."
Mrs Taylor said since about six months after the girls began talking they had been wishing they could meet.
They had devised lists of all the things they would do if one ever visited the other, and it was amazing they would finally get to do them, she said.
The whole trip really sunk in yesterday when Emma received her itinerary, she said.
They will fly into Los Angeles and will spend the next day at Disneyland with Abby and her mother, then another day sightseeing. Then they will drive up to Modesto to spend a couple of days with Abby's family before a personal guided tour on horseback for Emma through the Yosemite National Park.
That will be followed by a day in San Francisco before flying home. Mrs Taylor said it was also her first time out of the country.
"But the fun for me more is the fact she gets to do it all. It's so exciting.
"Seeing her get her wish is pretty cool."
- © Fairfax NZ News