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Once upon a time...

by Jessica Ekstrom June 09, 2012

As you all know, last year I interned for the Make a Wish foundation and it changed my life forever. But what you don't know is one story in particular was what really propelled me to start Headbands of Hope...


Once upon a time, we had a wish girl who was a beautiful 4-year-old girl named Renee. Her wish was to go to Disney World to meet her favorite princess, Sleeping Beauty. 


Unfortunately, Renee's cancer took a turn for the worst during Christmas time last year, a couple weeks before her wish. The doctors sent her home from the hospital to be with her family becuase her time left was short. Since she couldn't go to Sleeping Beauty, we dicided to bring Sleeping Beauty to her. We rented a Sleeping Beauty dress that I wore and I brought her a matching dress, a wand, and a crown with "Princess Renee" written on it. I also brought the sleeping beauty story to read to her. Before we came, her mother called and said she hasn't opened her eyes in 3 days, but she can hear everything we're saying. 


I arrived in my royal limo to Renee's house where her mom, dad and two sisters awaited me. I gave them a princess greeting and then went to Renee's bed in their living room where she was wearing a beautiful pink headband. I sat down on her bed beside her and put my hand on her shoulder, so she could feel that Sleeping Beauty was there. I started to read her the story of her favorite princess (my biography I called it) and she opened her eyes and saw Sleeping Beauty sitting with her on her bed. The family cried as I said "I remember when I woke up after a hundred years!" trying to stay in character. 


That time with Renee is a moment I will never forget. The doctor said she wasn't going to last to Christmas, but she lived a week after that until we got a phone call from her mother saying Renee had passed away. However, her mother said Renee was buried in the dress, crown and wand that Sleeping Beauty gave her. Her mother said she was more at peace with Renee passing because she knew she got what she always wanted, to meet Sleeping Beauty.


At this moment, I knew I had to start something new and fresh to help these kids. I thought of Renee and the headband she wore, and all of the other girls I met who wore headbands when they were battling cancer. After a couple thinking sessions with a pad and pencil in Starbucks...Headbands of Hope was born.





Jessica Ekstrom
Jessica Ekstrom

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