A Teenager's Wish: To See the Tokyo Cherry Blossoms in Bloom
make a wish tabitha

A Teenager’s Wish: To See the Tokyo Cherry Blossoms in Bloom

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“What would you want to see before you go blind?”

We’ve all asked ourselves that question, and for most, it’s an exercise. But that’s 15-year-old Tabitha’s reality.

Tabitha came home from gymnastics last February complaining about a headache and double vision. In a blur of hospital visits, a trip to the ophthalmologist, an MRI, and more, Tabitha was diagnosed with a brain tumor – an optic pathway glioma brain tumor that affects her vision. After surgery for a biopsy, she lost all vision in her left eye and has just partial vision in her right eye – and that could fade over time, too.

make a wish tabitha 

The diagnosis flipped Tabitha and her family’s life upside down and also accelerated her wish: To see the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Japan.

Thrifty Traveler is partnering with Make-A-Wish Minnesota to help make countless more kids’ wishes like Tabitha’s come true. Together, we’re aiming to raise at least 2 million frequent flyer miles this week for kids like Tabitha suffering critical illnesses who just need a break and a dose of hope. Read more on our mileage drive with Make-A-Wish Minnesota and see how you can help!

Read other inspiring stories of children whose lives have been changed by your airline mile donations!

Whether you’ve got miles that are expiring soon, sitting unused, or just want to make a struggling child’s day, please help us change lives by donating to Make-A-Wish Minnesota today.


Donate Your Airline Miles Today!


A New Normal … and A New Wish

Just over a year ago, Tabitha was a normal teenager anxious to get her driver’s license, busy with schoolwork, and gymnastics practice after school.

Now, her new normal is navigating the world without most of her sight and “chemo Fridays.” Her year’s worth of savings for her own car are up in the air, as she may not be able to drive. After missing four months of school and adjusting to her vision, school is hard for the first time in her life.

make a wish tabitha 

Tabitha’s parents worry about their daughter being in crowds and navigating the world with little vision, and whether she’ll be able to lead a normal life. Tabitha is just trying to stay positive.

“It’s something you adjust to and I think that I’m doing good with that,” Tabitha says.

As Tabitha adjusted to her new normal, it helped to have something to work towards: Her wish to see visit Japan, see the cherry blossoms, and eat all the sushi she possibly can.

“As for any child with a life-changing diagnosis, having a little light at the end, middle, or beginning of the tunnel can be healing,” said Stacey, Tabitha’s mother.


A Wish Come True

It’s no longer just a wish or a light at the end of the tunnel. Tabitha’s wish is coming true.

With the help of airline mile donations to Make-A-Wish Minnesota, Tabitha and her family will soon make their way to Japan!

“Since there’s a very real chance I could lose all my vision, I wanted to go somewhere that I could see and enjoy before that time could come. Japan is beautiful and I just have always wanted to be able to go there and that wouldn’t have been able to happen without Make-A-Wish,” Tabitha said.

tokyo cherry blossoms 

“There are so many things to love about Japan and I can’t wait to honestly just step off a plane knowing that I’m in Japan,” she added.

Tabitha’s family is still in disbelief.

“We would have never been able to make Tabitha’s wish come true on our own. Thank you so much to all the people who donate to this wonderful organization. You have no idea what it means to have your child’s wish granted,” Stacey said.


Helping More Tabithas

The experience will bring some hope and joy during times of darkness to their family. But there are hundreds more Minnesota children – and thousands nationwide – who could use the same dose of hope and joy.

“The outcome and wishes every individual this organization touches are completely different, but for every child and family that is touched by life-changing illness, it provides hope and everlasting memories,” Stacey said.

Help us provide that hope to countless more kids by donating your airline miles to Make-A-Wish Minnesota today. While Tabitha’s wish has become a reality, Make-A-Wish Minnesota needs more than 75 million miles each year to fulfill all the travel wishes it receives.


Donate Your Airline Miles Today!


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