Leah has been watching the Dallas Cowboys for as long as she can remember. Every Sunday, her family gathers around the TV, nachos in hand, to watch “America's Team” compete for the top spot. However, such dedication became difficult when Leah was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, landing her in a hospital with bad TV reception - if any at all. During her treatment Leah missed the sense of normalcy that came from her family’s Sunday tradition. Leah’s wish was about more than just meeting the players she idolizes; it was about them meeting her - their biggest fan. Now a high school senior, Leah’s outlook towards her illness mimics that of her favorite team- dealing with what the opponent throws your way and taking the challenge with an undeniable determination to overcome.
On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, Make-A-Wish volunteer Kim Smith visited Leah to deliver an important letter from Make-A-Wish North Texas that asked Leah to serve as the 2012 Wish Ambassador for the Macy’s Believe Campaign. Macy’s has supported Make-A-Wish for more than ten years and has conducted very successful campaigns to raise money and awareness for wishes across America. One of these fundraisers is the Macy’s Believe Campaign. This event encourages believers of all ages to write letters to Santa and drop them off at any Macy’s location across the country. In turn, Macy’s donates $1 to Make-A-Wish for each letter received.
As the Believe Campaign moved into its fifth year, it was vital to find a Wish Ambassador in North Texas who could represent Make-A-Wish and encourage the local community to support the wish granting program. Leah was asked to fulfill this important role and she willingly accepted the honor. The letter informed Leah of her upcoming television debut on Friday, December 14th
on WFAA Channel 8’s Good Morning Texas for a segment with the official Macy’s Santa Claus who would make a stop in DFW as part of his 26-city bus tour following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®
. Little did Leah know her wish was going to be granted LIVE during her visit with Santa.
On Thursday, December 13th
, Leah walked through the doors of the Macy’s Galleria Dallas for her scheduled fitting for Friday’s television segment. Thinking she was just selecting an outfit for the live show, she never dreamed this would be the outfit she would wear when she met the starting lineup for the 2012 Dallas Cowboys.
Early on Friday, December 14th, Leah hopped into a limo for a quick ride to the WFAA Channel 8 studios in downtown Dallas. She waited in the on-air guest waiting room while WFAA producers set up for Leah’s debut. Just after 9:00 am, Leah, the Macy’s Santa and all of his elves went on-air to encourage the community to drop of their letters at the local Macy’s. They explained that December 14th was National Believe Day, which meant that Macy’s would donate an additional $1 to Make-A-Wish for each letter received. As the segment continued, Leah shared her story about her battle with leukemia and her journey thus far as a Make-A-Wish child. Leah confidently told the viewers that her one true wish was to meet the Dallas Cowboys and that although her wish hadn't been granted yet, she knew it would happen soon. As soon as Leah finished her sentence, a very special guest walked right up to Leah holding a Make-A-Wish backpack. Jay Novacek, former Dallas Cowboys legend, handed the shocked 17-year-old the Make-A-Wish backpack and told her that she would be leaving this very instant to head to the official Dallas Cowboys practice facility in Valley Ranch for a meet and greet with the entire player roster and coaching staff. Leah squealed with excitement and was soon climbing into the limo as her wish began to unfold.
Not long after the surprise of a life-time, Leah was given a private tour of the famous practice facility, followed by a chance to attend the Cowboys morning practice. Leah received hugs, autographs and pictures from all of the players making it a morning to remember.
On Sunday, Leah and her family were chauffeured to the Cowboys vs. Steelers game where she and her family were guests not only at the game, but on the sidelines. She was greeted by her favorite players, Miles Austin and Jason Garrett, as well as many other coaches and players who stopped by to greet the lively teen they met at practice a few days before.
The greatest gift of all was to watch the extraordinary kick by Dallas Cowboys Place Kicker, Dan Bailey, which secured the win for the Cowboys with a 27-24 final score. What a perfect way to end an incredible wish weekend!
Where Are They Now?
Leah remains healthy and will compete on her varsity girls track team as a senior. She was recently accepted to the University of Texas and will begin classes in the fall of 2013. Hoping to one day become a doctor, Leah has decided to major in biochemistry.