Walking into a South Jersey Subaru dealership on Tuesday, Kabrina Clark thought she was picking a car for her 18th birthday.
She didn’t get a car. Instead, she was greeted by a cheering crowd in the showroom, where she was presented with a Make-A-Wish trip to Hawaii, with all expenses paid. She burst into tears as the well-wishers shouted “Happy Wish Day!”
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Accompanied by her grandparents, Clark from Blackwood was surprised. Your dream trip was six to nine months in the making.
“I didn’t know anything,” Clark said, wiping away tears. “I’m just so grateful.”
Clark was diagnosed with childhood cancer at 14, and underwent surgery and 44 rounds of chemotherapy. She has completed treatment and hopes her cancer will go away.
About 700 critically ill children in New Jersey and about 15,000 nationwide are eligible for a wish each year, spokesman Michael P. Dominick said. They fill out an application in which recipients are asked to outline their desire and their reasons for having their desire granted.
“We’re not restricting the child’s desire,” Dominick said.
Make-A-Wish New Jersey and Cherry Hill’s Subaru granted Clark’s wish. At Subaru, employees and volunteers wearing colorful leis waved signs at a Hawaii-themed celebration. Clark’s trip costs about $10,000, the average price for a wish, officials said.
Through its annual Share the Love campaign, which runs through January 3, Subaru has committed to donating $250 to participating charities of each customer’s choice. Subaru has granted more than 3,000 wishes since 2011.
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“To see you so excited. I almost cried,” said owner Ziad Nashed. “You can’t beat that.”
A hula dancer performed several routines. Clark, a senior at Highland Regional High School, was serenaded with a birthday cake.
Clark beamed as she listened to her upcoming travel plan. A limousine will take her and her family members to the airport next Tuesday. The planners accommodated her every wish, including a swim with dolphins.
The whirlwind trip is just what Clark needs, her grandmother told Deziree Madden. Despite a life-threatening diagnosis, the teenager remained optimistic even as chemo treatments caused her hair to fall out, she said.
“You just have to have a strong head. You just have to keep going and not give up,” Clark said. “I just lived every day like it was my last.”