Katie Adams to visit American Girl through Make-A-Wish Foundation
Katie Adams learned Wednesday that her wish to be the chief play officer for American Girl will soon come true through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alabama. Photo courtesy of Julianna Hallman
By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Eight-year-old Katie Adams was granted a wish on Wednesday to explore the headquarters of American Girl.
The doll company that inspires confidence in young girls has invited Katie to visit their corporate offices in Middleton, Wis., after being contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alabama.
Make-A-Wish grants the wishes of children across America who have experienced a life-threatening condition.
Katie was diagnosed with kidney cancer in September 2015, and after months of treatment, she has been cancer free for 9 months.
Julianna Hallman, the development and communications coordinator for Make-A-Wish Alabama, said she met with Katie months ago to discover her interests and determine what her ultimate wish would be.
“We sat down and talked, and I asked her the normal questions that we ask all of our wish kids,” Hallman said. “She brought up a celebrity that she wanted to meet, but then she said, ‘I really love American Girl.’ She took me up to her room and showed me all her American Girl dolls that she has.”
After showing Hallman her dolls, Katie said she would like to be the chief play officer for American Girl. Katie’s mom, Carol Adams, said Katie’s love for American Girl began with her grandmother buying her the dolls, and Katie heard about the idea of being a chief play officer after reading an article about a young boy who had a similar experience at a toy store.
During Katie’s cancer treatment, Adams said she would often play with her American Girl dolls to help her through the difficult time.
To make the surprise announcement to Katie that she would be going to American Girl, Adams says she gathered many of Katie’s friends at Los Reyes Grill in downtown Jasper to share the special news with their friend by holding a sign that read “your wish is granted.”
“We told Katie we were just going out to eat. It was a total 100 percent surprise,” Adams said.
Eric Rigsby, the principal of Memorial Park Elementary School where Katie attends, was at Los Reyes when Katie learned she would be spending spring break at American Girl.
“She was very surprised. It took her a minute to put it all together, but once she figured it out, she was ecstatic. ... It’s going to be a great thing for her,” he said, adding that Katie has been doing well during her first full year back in school. “She has done wonderful at school. When she finished her treatments and was able to come back to school this year, she came back and just jumped right in. It was almost like she had never been gone. She picked right back up where she had left off.”
Hallman said Katie’s trip to American Girl, which she will spend with her mom and dad, Vince Adams, and sister, Sara-Beth, will be all expenses paid.
“On the second day of her wish trip, she’ll get to go to the American Girl headquarters and get to design clothes and do so much more than we can even imagine. They’re going to spoil her, and we are so excited for that. She’s probably one in a million of getting to do this,” Hallman said. “They think she’s so cute and can’t wait to meet her.”
Carol Adams added, “They have a whole day lined up for us to come out, take a tour and for her to see some of the new plans and try on some of the stuff they’re thinking about doing in the future.”
Twelve other children in Walker County have had their dreams come through with Make-A-Wish since 2012, and Hallman says over 300 children in Alabama are awaiting their wish.
“We do need volunteer wish granters in Walker County. They would help us go out and meet the kids and be the face of Make-A-Wish for us to be able to help these children decide what their one true wish would be,” Hallman said.
Anyone interested in being a Make-A-Wish volunteer for Alabama may contact Hallman at email@example.com.
Katie’s mom said her daughter still has a CT scan every three months to ensure she remains cancer free.
The young girl has been using her experience to inspire others by speaking at a Relay for Life of Walker County event in November, and she will speak at another event this weekend. Katie will also volunteer during an upcoming Make-A-Wish Alabama event.
“It’s such a wonderful organization,” Carol Adams said.
Hallman said Katie will spend four days in Wisconsin while her wish comes true.
“It is an honor that I get to work and volunteer for Katie and kids like her,” Hallman said. “She is a joy, and I'm thankful to know such an incredible and strong girl.”