OMAHA, Neb. (June 2012): Lauren McCullough had a passion for athletics. She excelled on her high school’s swim team, and held two swimming records. Suddenly life dramatically changed. A pain in her leg led to testing and a diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of cancer that forms in bone or soft tissue. She underwent 17 two-week rounds of chemotherapy along with 31 sessions of radiation. It was very difficult for Lauren emotionally and physically, and the perfect time for her to have something special in her life that inspired her dreams. Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses, made Lauren feel like she won the gold, sending her to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming 2012. She was so excited to dive into her Olympic wish!
Kids Wish Network flew Lauren and her family from California to Omaha, Nebraska to attend Olympic Team Trials at the CenturyLink Center through USA Swimming. “I had always wanted to see the Olympians in person,” said Lauren. “I also knew it was something my whole family would enjoy, so it was a great wish to choose.”
While the venue is massive, Lauren and her family watched from seats where they could see all the heats and events up close. She felt so connected to her favorite sport, meeting Olympians and being befriended by Olympic gold medal winner Summer Sanders – they spent time together each day.
There were also surprises. Lauren received a very special memento… a sculpture of a swimmer gifted by artist Lawrence Sosso. It was a miniature version of one of the large sculptures hanging in the venue. Lauren treasured this meaningful art that would always bring back the happy feelings during her trip.
During the wish, the family stayed at Hampton Inn Omaha West-Lakeside, and enjoyed memorable dining experiences at Lone Star Steakhouse, M’s Pub, Rick’s Café Boatyard and Rock Bottom Brewery. They received transportation by Dollar Rent A Car Eppley.
“It was a lot more than I expected,” said Lauren. “Everyone was so nice. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thank you.”
Update: Sadly, Lauren lost her battle with cancer at the age of 21. She inspired so many through her positive attitude, and helped give cancer support to others through her blog, public speaking and guest appearances on radio programs. We’re honored that we were able to give Lauren a wish that brought her so much happiness.
Kids Wish Network is a national charitable organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children with life-threatening conditions and struggling with life-altering situations. KWN provides trip expenses, meals, accommodations and additional spending monies to all wish families whenever traveling as applicable. Visit www.kidswishnetwork.org to learn about our different programs, and find out how you can help make dreams come true and sponsor a wish for a deserving child.