She chose this wish because she wanted to be with her whole family and have the chance to go swimming with the dolphins.
Raena faces Freidreich’s Ataxia (FA), a neuromuscular disease that mainly affects the nervous system and the heart. FA affects about one in 50,000 people worldwide, making it the most common in a group of related disorders called hereditary ataxias.
As part of her wish, she wanted her entire blended family to go along. This included her mom, Brooke and step-dad, Steve, and dad, Dan and step-mom, Jennifer. Along with her parents were her three brothers and sister, including Cade (12), Blake (5), Jack (1), Zoe (2).
Her mom Brooke had this to say:
“For me, this wish was all about Raena creating exactly what she wanted. She has had no control over her diagnosis and has no control over what will happen to her. Through this wish she was able to orchestrate her dream world. For Raena, this meant having both parents and all of her siblings together. This never would have happened if not for Make-A-Wish®
She has always imagined all of her siblings from both households playing together and enjoying each other as much as she enjoys all of them. While on vacation in Atlantis this is exactly what happened. We all played together, we ate together, and we had tons of fun. She delighted in sharing this once in a lifetime memory with all of us. I think that some of her favorite moments were when we all met a dolphin, Harper, at Dolphin Cay. The magic of this experience was surreal. She will always have that memory of all of her family experiencing this together.
There was also a time on the beach when she was getting her hair braided by a local woman in a tent, (something that was on her list of things to do on the trip). Braiding her hair took an hour and during that time her baby sister and baby brother form each household fell asleep and napped at her feet together while she was getting to know some local people, getting her hair braided. She had a great time exploring Atlantis. Parked at the marina were many Yachts. She'd never seen a yacht before and was blown away. Ever since the trip she is plotting to become a best-selling author and spending lots of time on her very own yacht, sort of like a happy version of Hemmingway. Spending a week together in Atlantis has had lasting effects on our blended family. We have all spent time together in a relaxed environment. We all communicate better and know each other better. Her siblings look forward to seeing each other at all of her activities. The impact of this experience will be ongoing and powerful. We are so very grateful to Make-A-Wish.”
Raena’s wish was made possible by Adopt-A-Wish®
Partner Jewelers for Children
and local store, Faini Jewelry Designs Studio
in Sioux Falls, and an anonymous donor.