Wishes really do come true on the campus of Lubbock Christian University; just ask Isabel Artiaga. The 12-year-old made her first visit to LCU Monday morning with her mother, Sarah Cantu, at the request of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) where she was about to receive her dream vacation, unbeknownst to her.
Artiaga, a Make-A-Wish kid diagnosed with cavernous lymphangioma and cystic hygroma, will be flying to the Aulani Resort in Hawaii next Wednesday along with her family for a five-day getaway. Fundraising efforts for Make-A-Wish and Artiaga were spearheaded by LCU's SAAC and its president, Amy Edwards. Lubbock Christian is a member of the NCAA's Division II, which established a national alliance with Make-A-Wish in 2003 to help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Back in August, the SAAC made a goal to raise at least $8,000 (the cost of granting a wish) by the end of the academic year. The Chaps and Lady Chaps made true to their word, racking up over $11,000 by the end of October to fulfill their promise. To raise such a large sum of money, student-athletes and coaches worked Texas Tech football games, hosted golf tournaments, received donations and held a trunk-or-treat for the bulk of the funds needed.
"Everyone has been so helpful during this process," Edwards acknowledged. "People were so willing to put in their time and effort for this cause."
While the wish money had been collected over four months ago, Edwards and the SAAC had only known of Artiaga and her wish two weeks ago, as she was deemed a "rush wish", which seeks to expedite the wish process. Once Edwards got word that Artiaga would be the child to receive her wish through LCU, intense planning began. Through Artiaga's wish granter, Henry Ramos, Edwards was able to discover what exactly her wish would entail.
"I saw a commercial of the Aulani Disney Resort and wanted to go there," Artiaga explained. "It's a fun resort, and I kept telling my mom in the hospital. She said it didn't exist, but then I showed her the commercial and she believed me."
Cantu persuaded her daughter to attend LCU's chapel service by explaining to her that she was there to be an advocate for Make-A-Wish and bring awareness to the cause. What she did not realize was that the entire service was completely dedicated to her and her wish. After Edwards brought her onstage and confessed as to why she was really there, LCU's a cappella group "Best Friends" serenaded her with a Justin Bieber Hawaii rendition of "Baby" before student athletes draped her in leis and a grass skirt while breaking the once in a lifetime news and presenting the check.
While Artiaga's wish is completely her own, she is still as eager to share her joy and excitement with those closest to her. When asked what she is most looking forward to would be, she replied, "That everybody in my family is happy."
As memorable as her vacation will be, she did just the same for all in attendance during Lubbock Christian's Monday morning chapel, making it a very touching an unforgettable service.