While in her senior year at Forsyth Central High School, Kayla Frazier had a lot going for her: school, family and friends, upcoming choices about college and career, and a thriving interest in the theatre department at school.
But in the fall of 2017, that plan was flipped upside down, when a routine follow up visit to the doctor turned into a diagnosis for a rare form of cancer that had spread to her lungs. According to Make-A-Wish Georgia, Frazier then underwent six months of chemotherapy to combat the cancer that had been discovered in her body.
Today, Frazier, 18, has recovered and her cancer is in remission, but for a while she said things were really hard for her and her family. She said that what kept her going in the dark times and kept her hopeful when all else failed, was her lifelong dream of going to New York City and experiencing the Broadway productions the city is famous for.
In September 2017, Frazier found out that that dream had been granted by Make-A-Wish Georgia and that she and her family would be traveling to New York City.
“It meant a whole lot, because when I figured it out it gave me something to look forward to and kept me going through everything,” Frazier said. “And going to New York City has been a dream of mine since elementary school, so it was really just a lot.”
Frazier learned that her wish had been paid for by an Atlanta cosmetics company called OVME as part of a Make-A-Wish program that allows companies to adopt wishes, and fund them privately through donations.
According to Sarrah Houghton, community relations coordinator for Make-A-Wish Georgia, the program frees up Make-A-Wish to reallocate funds, and in the end make more wishes come true.
“But I think that one of the best parts is really and truly seeing a community come together. Wishes aren’t solely granted by the people who are in our office. It takes donors, volunteers, corporate partners and so many players to make them come true,” Houghton said.
She said that Make-A-Wish Georgia grants 300 to 400 wishes a year and that this year the group plans to grant 350 wishes.
“For Kayla specifically, it wouldn’t have been possible without the community and OVME who actually funded her wish through our adopt a wish program,” Houghton said.
Mark McKenna, the founder and CEO of OVME, said that while OVME is a business, employees want to participate in the community and give back when they can.
“A lot of us here are parents, so giving back to a charity that does so much for kids in need means a lot to us,” McKenna said.
Frazier said that she and her family spent a week in New York City, visiting the Statue of Liberty, the Central Park Zoo, the Empire State Building and three Broadway shows — “Anastasia,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Waitress.”
She said that a real surprise came when she was able to meet actors and actresses from all three of the productions.
“Seeing these Broadway shows meant so much to me and meeting the people who inspire me and bring me joy was an absolutely amazing experience,” Frazier said. “I have looked up to a lot of the actors and actresses in those shows for a long time, and it was just surreal. I cried a lot.”
Houghton said the joy and hope Frazier experienced is a big part of why she does what she does and why Make-A-Wish Georgia strives to make so many wishes happen each year.
“I think that the beauty of a community coming together — that’s my favorite part. The joy of what the kids experience is what we ultimately hope to see,“ Houghton said.