Thirteen-year-old Sydnie has been battling a seizure disorder since she was an infant. While she learned to cope with her condition early on, she never expected that 11 years later she’d also be diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The news shocked Sydnie’s family to its core. “When your child has to go through medical situations that you as a parent have no control over…you learn pretty quickly that you need to trust that God will bring people into your life that will support you,” Sydnie’s mother, Walleen, recalls. “I see how we all just went through the daily motions almost in rote fashion just to get by.”
Although the tumor diagnosis brought with it a new set of challenges, Sydnie found a way to cope and manage the stress. Sitting in her hospital room browsing through YouTube to pass the time, Sydnie came across Alex Wassabi’s YouTube channel. Alex is a popular YouTuber who posts daily video blogs (vlogs) that cover topics ranging from cooking to special challenges. His signature greeting to viewers? “What it is, what it be, what it do, doe?” His charming, exuberant personality and witty sense of humor has a contagious positivity that left a special impression on Sydnie.
He also influenced and inspired her overall outlook through his life motto: “If you’re not smiling, you’re doing it wrong!” Sydnie remarks, “[His motto] helped me by reminding me to always have a positive attitude and when I did that, I overcame challenges faster.”
Sydnie knew immediately that she wanted to meet Alex someday and cook beside him in the Wassabi Kitchen. In the beginning, the idea seemed farfetched. But when Make-A-Wish Hawaii approached her and told her to dream big, Sydnie knew this was her one true wish. When the family found out Sydnie’s wish was coming true, they were so overjoyed that it was hard to keep it a secret!
And when the big day finally came, it was a whirlwind of excitement and joy for Sydnie too—she couldn’t believe she was actually getting to meet her celebrity hero. As she predicted, Alex’s playful and genuine manner on-camera was the same off-camera. Along with Alex, Sydnie met his girlfriend, Lauren, and pal, Josh—both of whom are also popular YouTubers.
Sydnie not only met the YouTuber who inspired her during the most challenging of times, she also baked alongside him and was even featured in one of his videos. Behind the counters of the Wassabi Kitchen, the quartet whipped up a combination of Sydnie’s two loves, mixing Twix and chocolate cake into a brownie!
“I didn’t get to fangirl until after when I got to think about it,” Sydnie recalls. “[The wish experience] makes me work harder whenever I think back to it, because I feel that if I can help at least one other person, then I spread the message of being positive.”
Sydnie’s dad Bruce has observed a new drive in Sydnie to spread positivity by giving back to her extended wish family. When she heard about the Give Wishes Wings Radiothon event, which raises funds to grant summer wishes, Sydnie was enthusiastic about attending and lending her support. She came in a few months prior to do a pre-recorded radio spot and returned the day of the radiothon to speak live on the air. “This makes me, as her dad, very proud to see that my little girl understands what it means to give back,” Bruce reflects.
In Walleen’s eyes, the family will forever remain grateful for their extended wish ‘ohana, because through the darkness, Make-A-Wish has provided an “opportunity for healing…and a chance to smile and laugh.”
Check out the video from Sydnie's wish below!