Seven-year-old Harper has a big personality. Her mother Erin describes her as “kind of a nerdy kid” who loves video games and comic books. So, when she discovered YouTube baking sensation Rosanna “Ro” Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies series, she was hooked.
“She bakes stuff that I know about, like Legends of Zelda lemon bars,” said Harper. Ever since she found Rosanna’s channel, Harper’s new favorite hobby has been baking. “She really connected with all the nerdy things Rosanna does,” said Erin. “She loves to help me bake now.”
Harper’s love of baking and the Nerdy Nummies series has also been getting her through her cancer diagnosis. Just a couple of months after her family moved to Hawaii on military orders, Harper was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that affects the body’s tissues. Where an unexpected move to Hawaii would otherwise be an exciting time, Harper’s family has instead spent the past year making trips to the hospital and navigating indescribable obstacles.
But the hope that her wish to meet Rosanna Pansino would come true got her through the toughest times. “I had to have chemo and biopsies and radiation, all in a short time,” she said. “The wish helped me be able to forget about all that for a time.”
Make-A-Wish Hawaii invited Harper and her family for a staycation at the Sheraton Waikiki so that she could be a special guest at our World Wish Day celebration. What she didn’t know was that this was also her wish weekend! On the second day of her staycation, Harper got a tour of the hotel’s kitchens and helped the pastry chef bake a cake. That’s when she was surprised with Ro’s entire line of baking products and a video of Ro herself saying that she would be there the next morning to decorate cake pops with her!
“Harper literally fell on the floor!” described Erin. “She was so shocked. Her dad and I had been keeping the secret for months, so we were almost as excited as she was!”
The next day, Harper was joined by 10-year-old wish kid Leah from Oklahoma, who had the very same wish! The two got their hair and makeup done and eagerly awaited Ro’s arrival.
The girls each met Ro one at a time and exchanged gifts. Then, all three spent the morning decorating tropical, ocean-themed cake pops, taking selfies, recording a fun music video, and playing games. Ro also joined the girls the next day at our 35th anniversary and World Wish Day celebration before saying goodbye.
Fast friends, Rosanna, Harper, and Leah all felt the experience was life-changing. “Every time I think about my wish I feel so happy,” said Harper.
“It’s finally just a bright spot,” said Leah’s mom Sarah.
Rosanna, who has worked with Make-A-Wish in the past, said, “It was amazing being a part of Leah and Harper’s wish. Both girls are sweethearts; they have so much personality and so much humor. It makes my soul happy.”
As it turns out, the wish was as good for the body as it was for the soul. Erin said that Harper’s labs at her next appointment were higher than they’d been in months. Harper told the nurse, “I’m happy, so my blood is happy!”
“This was just what she needed to give her the energy to finish treatment strong,” said Erin.
Mahalo to Rosanna Pansino for granting this amazing wish, Sheraton Waikiki for hosting Harper and Leah, Cake Works for providing the cake pops and supplies, and Williams-Sonoma for conducting a cooking class and baking a cake with the girls following their meeting with Rosanna. This wish is truly an example of the many hands that come together to create life-changing experiences for our keiki.
“Whatever we can do to make our kids light up and be happy—we love being a part of that,” said Helen Klomsue, general manager of the Williams-Sonoma Ala Moana store.
Bill Hedgepeth, director of catering and event management for Sheraton Waikiki, echoed Klomsue’s thoughts. “I was touched by the passion from all the Make-A-Wish staff involved in this project,” he said. “Their passion spilled over to me and caused me to want to make this the best experience for Harper.”