Chicago native Lanyah Aldridge, 16, has been in and out of hospitals since she was a young girl. She was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at birth, which will last throughout her lifetime, and at the age of 8, she suffered a stroke that brought on an even more complex medical history. Lanyah has experienced many difficulties related to her sickle cell, including strokes, moyamoya, asthma and a seizure disorder.
Her complex medical conditions require care from different specialists, including a pulmonologist, neurologist, hematologist and a psychologist. She currently receives a monthly apheresis treatment and recently had brain surgery; since, her condition has worsened.
Linda Aldridge, Lanyah’s mother, and a host of social workers have teamed up with A Second Wish By Demetrius, Inc., a nonprofit organization located in Tampa, Florida, to help grant second wishes to children like Lanyah who have life-threatening illnesses. They also provide scholarships to children. The idea is that some patients receive wishes from organization but
Ms. Aldridge stated that this journey has been tough for Lanyah and their family, and they would love to have a beautiful vacation with Lanyah. “It’s been tough to deal with many things because everything [has been] unpredictable and she’s always in the hospital. I barely work, but we take it day by day.”
A Second Wish By Demetrius, Inc. was founded in 2008 by Angela Small, a resident of Tampa for more than 25 years. The organization was created in memory of Angela’s nephew Demetrius Smith who was a gifted and good-spirited child beloved by many. Diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor at the age of 3, years later he was granted his first wish of having a piano. However, when the tumor returned at 12, his second wish went unfulfilled as he succumbed to brain cancer that very year. The family reached out to other wish granting organizations but none of them could assist because he had already been granted one wish.
Small said, “The families are so grateful because most of [the children,] were very young when they got that first wish [that] they don’t remember the wish, or they were very sick. Now that they are healthier, or even though they’re still battling with their illnesses, they’re able to enjoy it with their family and their siblings, and that means the world to me. I can see them get that; we want to make sure that Lanyah will be able to enjoy herself.”
Lanyah’s second wish is to visit SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, with her family so they all can substitute hospitals for fun in the sun. Her trip was scheduled for May 12–16.
Support A Second Wish By Demetrius, Inc. with your charitable contribution by visiting www.asecondwish.org. For more information on ways to help Lanyah and the foundation, please contact Angela Small at (813)330-1145 and follow on www.facebook.com/asecondwish.