Wed. Jul 6th, 2022
Pictured left, Laura Byrne teaching Daria, a blind cancer survivor, to play the harp. Make A Wish Foundation has helped hundreds of children in each of its local chapters every year do things they never thought possible.

While most teenagers complain to their parents about a new phone or the latest fashions, Daria takes each day at a time, as a blind, hearing impaired, cancer survivor.

Daria is a wish child of the local Eastern Make-A-Wish chapter in North Carolina. Her wish is to learn how to play the Celtic harp, despite her inability to see. The Make-A-Wish Foundation provides her with a harp, braille music books and a teacher. The rest is based on her desire to learn.

Laura Byrne, (the reporter’s mother) her teacher, provided an in depth look at what it is like to teach and work with Daria. “She’s extremely focused through her hearing, very aware of her spatial relationship to the instrument and she maps the strings on the harp by octaves. She hears the shape of the melody, listens to the intervals and finds them on the strings.”

Daria helped pick out the harp over the phone with Byrne and another harpist. Being blind did not interfere with her ability to choose the right harp.

Her story, and many like it, disproves the common misconception of the Make-A-Wish Foundation that a child must be terminally ill in order to receive their wish. According to the Make-A-Wish website, “To qualify for a wish, the child must have a diagnosed illness that is considered to be life-threatening by their physician. We do consider wishes on a case-by-case basis, so it is always best to contact us if there is a question as to whether a child qualifies.”

To overcome these insurmountable circumstances in life with such strength and courage is
inspiring. Thankfully, Daria’s cancer is currently in remission, and she is able to enjoy her wish. Hundreds of children living with a life-threatening illness may be given the privilege of a wish come true.

“Daria is talented and does not think of herself as disabled. She loves music, she used to sing in a choir and dance and loves to be creative,” said Byrne.

Each child’s wish is able to happen thanks to the work of their families, doctors, donors, volunteers and local contributors. Some sponsors of the Eastern NC Chapter of Make-A-Wish include the following:: Zaxby’s, UnitedHealthcare, Progress Energy, Carolina Hurricanes, Panera Bread, Maggiano’s, Southwest Airlines and UNC Healthcare.

There are many creative ways to give to Make-A-Wish other than donating money. Silent auctions, donating frequent flyer miles, fundraising events like bowling tournaments or car shows or eating out at a restaurant that sponsors a local chapter can make a difference in the lives of ill and recovering children.

Daria’s story is incredible and unique. Like many other Make-A-Wish children, she was lucky enough to fight off cancer.

Knowing what to say to someone fighting such a life-threatening sickness, or understand the difficulties of their individual battle is impossible, but there are ways to make a difference. By contributing to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you create lasting memories of joy and hope for those that need it most.

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