The Man Behind Anna’s Inspiration: Her Wish to Meet Darius Rucker

“Anna and Darius talked like next door neighbors”

Early in 2014, Anna suddenly began experiencing severe muscle weakness that affected only one side of her body and lost the ability to speak normally. Doctors performed a CAT scan and discovered “patches” of gray shadows in Anna’s brain. Days later, the teen was diagnosed with moyamoya disease, a rare and life-threatening disorder caused by narrowing and blocked arteries at the base of the brain.

By the time Anna’s condition was discovered, she had already suffered two minor strokes and needed surgery immediately. Anna had the first of her two eight-hour surgeries within five days of diagnosis and the second a week after the first. Anna continues to receive specialized therapy but has already made great progress towards regaining muscle control and speech. Moyamoya is a progressive and incurable disease, so Anna will continue to need monitoring for the rest of her life.

Despite her harrowing journey, Anna has remained incredibly positive. During her stay in the hospital, the teen started making blankets and pillows she gives to other hospitalized children. She also listened to Darius Rucker’s song “Wagon Wheel” on repeat whenever she was feeling down. Kids Wish Network was excited to give Anna some more hope when we granted her wish to meet Rucker in person and see him perform “Wagon Wheel” live.

KWN sent Anna and her family on a wish trip to meet Darius, sit VIP for his concert, and explore the beautiful surroundings. Anna met Darius before his concert and spent time bonding. The family said he was extremely humbled by Anna’s story and even wore her Moyamoya bracelet during the concert.

“We can’t thank all the hard working people at Kids Wish Network, as well as all of the generous sponsors, enough!” said Julia, Anna’s mom. “Anna and Darius talked like he was our next door neighbor. He was very moved when Anna told him about her struggles with Moyamoya, the brain surgeries, seizures and endless tests. She told Darius how the song “Wagon Wheel” gave her a lift when she needed it most, especially the first hospital stay when no one knew what was wrong with her. Thank you Kids Wish for letting Anna and my family not think about doctors, hospitals and challenges for a few wonderful days!! Instead we were treated like royalty by so many kind, well-intentioned people. This trip to New Hampshire was one that we will never forget and one that will give us strength in the dark days. Kids Wish does really great work. We love you all!!!”

KWN would like to thank all the sponsors that made this wish possible:
• Darius Rucker
• The Windrifter Resort
• Mise en Place
• Castle in the Clouds
• Sandy Point Restaurant
• Patrick’s Pub & Eatery
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car


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