NORWALK, Conn. (Jan. 9, 2015): Lauren Santora couldn’t believe her ears when Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin invited her to skate on the ice with him during her recent wish trip granted by Kids Wish Network.
“Everything was really fun,” Lauren said. “I like Ovechkin because he skates fast, plays hard, and makes things happen on the ice.”
The 8-year-old Norwalk, CT, girl has played on an ice hockey team since she was just 2 years old, a miraculous feat for a young girl who suffers from a life-threatening illness. The diagnosis of autoimmune disease came during a regular check-up for Lauren, but it changed her life forever. Now 8 years old, Lauren is completely dependent on an insulin pump and is monitored around the clock by a glucose monitor. But Lauren doesn’t let her illness slow her down, and it thankfully didn’t affect the amount of fun she had on her wish trip.
Kids Wish Network provided Lauren a once-in-a-lifetime wish experience in Washington D.C. complete with luxury accommodations, historic and fun activities, delicious dinners, and a celebrity arrival via limousine to the Verizon Center. Partnering with the Washington Capitals, Kids Wish Network was able to make Lauren’s biggest dream come true.
Lauren met her idol, Ovechkin, over breakfast, shopped in the Capitals store, and attended a team practice. Then she was invited onto the ice where she was even able to score a few goals and show off her skills. The next day at the big game, Lauren watched warm-ups from the Capitals bench, stood on the “blue line” with the team for the National Anthem and gave an on-air interview.
“I am very honored to have had a chance to meet Lauren and spend some time with her,” said Ovechkin. “She is a courageous girl and a great hockey player! It was great to see her smile and enjoy her time with our team. I also want to thank the Kids Wish Network for their involvement in this experience.”
“Thank you all so very much for making this possible for our girl,” says mom Dianna Santora. “We are really blessed to get this wish for Lauren.”
Kids Wish Network would like to thank all the generous sponsors that helped grant Lauren’s wish: The Mandarin Oriental Washington DC Hotel, The Washington Capitals, Alex Ovechkin, Chef Geoff’s Downtown Restaurant, Rosa Mexicano Restaurant, District Chop House and Brewery, Gaylord Hotel National Ice, Abes & BBC Limousine and Tours, Go to the Airport Shuttle, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Old Town Trolley Tours and the DC Ducks, Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation, Connex Credit Union, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles #640
Lauren continues to battle her incurable illness but will not let it stand in her way.
Kids Wish Network is a national charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children having experienced life-altering situations. Come experience the Kids Wish Network difference at www.kidswishnetwork.org.